I think most of us would agree that cycling has a lot of benefits – physical, mental, financial – and that riding a bike gives a person a certain autonomy, a freedom to come and go as you please – a self reliance. So my Christmas gift guide this year is dedicated to charities and non-profits that help make cycling accessible for those whose lives could significantly change by having two wheels to set them on their way. Give once, give regularly, volunteer or even just find your own way to spread the velolove where it’s needed most. Any way you want to do it, giving back is the best gift you can give.
Cycling Projects is a UK national charity, whose mission is to make cycling accessible to all by giving people the opportunity to cycle on a regular basis: through help, support and guidance. Their Wheels for All initiative helps children and adults with differing needs to participate in cycling in a safe, fun and encouraging environment, while their Pedal Away initiative is a community-based scheme of social rides for anyone and everyone, no matter their cycling level – the measure of success isn’t your Strava placement but ‘did you have fun?’
There are over 50 centres throughout the UK and for those of you who want to give your time and expertise, there are a variety of volunteering opportunities – from ride leaders to mechanics to help with office admin tasks.
For information about the charity and links to donation pages, click here.
Follow CyclingProjects on Twitter.
This London-based charity takes second-hand bikes, fixes them up and donates them to refuges and asylum-seekers so they can travel around the capital as they access vital services, including healthcare, education and food banks, without having to worry about finding bus fare. “When you have to go from charity to charity to feed yourself, a bike becomes very important to your life.”
There are a number of ways to help: a one-off donation (£20 pays for a cycling safety kit for bike beneficiaries), donate a bike; sponsor refugee cycles (just £10 a month); fundraise with a ride of your own; become a volunteer mechanic (they’ll even train you!) or even set up a bike hub. The charity also sells some of the bikes that they refurbish, as well as wallets, phone covers, etc, made from recycled inner tubes, cycling caps and tees.
Like The Cycling Project, Wheels for Wellbeing believe that everyone should have an opportunity to cycle and they particularly focus on people with differing needs. Their mission statement says it all, really: Wheels for Wellbeing exists to enhance disabled people’s lives by ensuring that anyone can access the physical, emotional, practical and social benefits of cycling.
A small charity, they run cycling sessions at Herne Hill Velodrome and have a number of volunteering opportunities. They also campaign for the rights of disabled cyclists and the need for a robust cycling infrastructure for everyone – something you can get involved with if you want to see a change in society. And of course they are reliant on donations, as their tweet below shows.
For more information on the charity and how to help, click here.
I suspect everyone who reads this will know the South African-based charity Qhubeka. Founded in 2005, the charity believes that bikes are tools of change and those two wheels can connect a person to an education, employment and health clinics. Bikes can also often be the only way for first responders to get to a disaster area to offer help. So far, the charity has been able to donate 80,000 bikes to communities throughout South Africa.
The website has a lot of different ways you can contribute to this charity – from straight cash donations to fundraising activities from sponsored bike rides (natch) to toolkits for climbing challenges – even a games night! (I think I’m going to try that one – I love a good board game …) Even buying a Qhubeka bracelet helps.
For more information on Qhubeka’s work and how you can help, click here.
Cycling UK is a charity committed to campaigning locally and nationally on issues that are important to the cycling community. Championing the simple belief that cycling should be accessible and available to all, they support everything from community cycle clubs to inclusive cycling for those with differing needs – as well as actively encouraging kids to start their journey of a lifetime on their bikes. Besides membership and donations, there are tons of volunteering opportunities all around the UK so if you want to get involved, you’ll almost certainly find a way to do that here.
For more information on Cycling UK, click here.
Re-Cycle‘s mission is a future where every person in Africa has access to quality, affordable, sustainable bike transport – in short, an African unlimited by transport. As with Qhubeka, Re-Cycle understand that the distances that children who live in rural communities need to travel to get to school or adults travel to find employment or access healthcare can take hours on foot, but a bike can give them that time back and make education and services more accessible.
The charity relies on donations of unwanted bikes, which are then shipped to the charity’s partners around Africa, where they are refurbished and distributed to people in rural communities. So how can you help? There are nearly 100 drop-off points around the UK if you would like to donate a bike. One-off or regular donations are always welcomed (and don’t forget Gift Aid if you’re a UK taxpayer), or you can fundraise with your own sponsored bike ride or register for a volunteering opportunity.
For more information on Re-Cycle and how you can help, click here.
The League has been protecting the rights to safe and enjoyable bicycling since 1880. What started as a movement by “Wheelmen” on high-wheel bikes to get roads paved continues today with the campaigning spirit of this non-profit. They provide education programmes, help create better biking environments, promote cycling as the option of choice and help communities create bicycle-friendly places. This is a nationwide charity, so there are plenty of opportunities and resources to get involved in your own community.
For more information on BikeLeague and how you can get involved, click here.
I’m sure many of you remember the first time you got a bike when you were a kid. That sense of freedom and adventure those two wheels bring with them – and the way to get to your friend’s house when no one is around to drive you. FreeBikes4Kidz is a Minneapolis-based non-profit in the States that collects bikes, refurbishes them and then gives them to those who might never have the opportunity to have a bike. There are plenty of ways to get involved – from donating a bike (or hard cold cash) to volunteering opportunities – and if your area doesn’t have a FB4K affiliate, why not start one?
Follow FB4K on Twitter.
These are just a small selection of cycling charities in the UK and the US. There are plenty of ways of getting involved and supporting great initiatives, both large and small. If you have a cycling charity that you support and want to shout about it, post some info in Comments. And if this post has galvanised you into action, especially if you’ve decided to volunteer (whether as a one-off or regularly), let us know! I’d love to follow this post up with one talking about how our great VeloVoices community has put their time and money where their heart is.