Veterans in Halton are recycling unclaimed bikes donated by police to help local people tackle their mental health issues.
The scheme which is supported by Mayor Steve Rotheram’s Community Environment Fund, the veterans teach people how to refurbish a bike before going for spin on Runcorn’s new walking and cycling routes. And at the end of the course, they get to keep the bike.
Many of the veterans, from social enterprise Halton Veterans’ Legion CIC, based in Halton Royal British Legion have suffered from PTSD and the aim of the project is to provide a safe space for small groups going through similar issues.
A workshop has been created inside a giant shipping container in the grounds of Murdishaw Community Centre specially for the scheme.
Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram said:
“Climate change is the single greatest challenge our planet faces – and how we step up to the plate will be the defining moment in our generation’s legacy. It will require an enormous, collective effort to deliver the long-term changes that we need.
“It is not just about large-scale infrastructure projects but the vital role that individuals can play too. Taken together, lots of small actions from ordinary people working together with a common purpose can make a massive difference. That’s what the Community Environment Fund is all about; empowering local people and giving back to our communities.
“Meeting the veterans and seeing the difference that this project is making to them was fantastic and richly rewarding. This is proper devolution in action: empowering our communities to deliver real, lasting change to their lives and the future of our planet.”
The veterans successfully applied for a £12,000 Community Environment Fund grant to teach people referred to the project from mental health services. The veterans, along with non-veterans, restore and repair bicycles donated by Cheshire Police which could not be reunited with their owners.
Kevin Walsh, Operational Director of Halton Veterans Legion C.I.C. said:
“Many of the people referred to us come from the Brooker Centre, where a lot of veterans have received help with their mental health, GPs and outreach services. This scheme is able to provide an environment where veterans can be around people who have lived through similar situations and come from similar backgrounds in the services. It’s a safe supportive atmosphere without any pressure. They’re learning new skills and improving their health and wellbeing by getting out on their bikes in the local area.”
The veterans bike project was one of 34 projects to receive funding from this year’s £500,000 Community Environment Fund for 2022/23.
Grants were available for smaller projects of up to £5,000, with up to £30,000 available for larger projects.
The fund’s application criteria were decided by the Liverpool City Region Climate Partnership, which was set up to provide expert advice on tackling the climate emergency.
Dan Haddock Neighbourhood Inspector for Runcorn Local Policing Unitshas helped provide the bikes for the project he said:
“The work the veterans in this group do is amazing and we were delighted to be able to help them by providing the bikes for their project. These are bikes which have been reclaimed by police from a variety of sources whether they’ve been stolen or lost for example, but of course sometimes we’re unable to trace the owner so it’s fantastic that we’re able to give them a new lease of life while supporting such a good cause.”
The Liverpool City Region Community Environment Fund aims to improve the Liverpool City Region’s environment, develop opportunities for environmental education to encourage long-term behavioural change and promote community buy-in and participation to safeguard the long-term sustainability of quality green spaces.
Councillor Gill Wood, Deputy Portfolio Holder for Climate Emergency and Renewable Energy at Liverpool City Region Combined Authority said:
“This project is benefitting local people on several levels. Not only are the veterans improving their mental and physical health and wellbeing, but they are learning useful skills within active travel which supports the environment as well as using the infrastructure in place with our walking and cycling routes.”
Use of the fund also seeks to support the Liverpool City Region becoming net zero by 2040, reduce air pollution and improve the health and wellbeing of people across the whole city region.