Essex Pedal Power Pedalling it’s way to Success

Local Delivery Pilot

TWO wheels are better than four, as the saying goes. And in Tendring, residents have been finding this out for themselves as free bikes have helped bring families together, improved mental wellbeing and provided a vital way of getting out and about.

Since June 2021, Essex Pedal Power has been giving out free new bikes to eligible residents in Clacton and Jaywick, and this summer launched in Harwich. These distinctive orange bikes can now be seen being ridden all over Tendring, as riders enjoy the benefits of keeping fit and enjoying the countryside. For some a new bike means a way to get active, for others it could be the only way they can get to work or visit family. But for one woman, getting an Essex Pedal Power bike transformed her life.

Raeanne Williams, 26, first heard about Essex Pedal Power Clacton and Jaywick through her work in the charity sector. After striking up conversation, Raeanne, who lives in Clacton, found she was eligible for a bike and shortly after receiving it, she noticed a huge difference in her life. In fact, she was so pleased with the difference it was made she applied for a job at the Colchester Essex Pedal Power in Greenstead, which opened this Summer, to become part of the project and help others like her.

Raeanne, project support officer at Essex Pedal Power Greenstead Colchester, said: “I am passionate about making positive changes to the world and when I received my Essex Pedal Power bike it transformed my life. My commute to work was quicker, I lost weight, mentally and physically I could notice a difference. My love for my job stems from the transformative power it holds and is proving to have with each participant. Witnessing the positive changes in people’s lives, both big and small, is incredibly gratifying.”

For some, an Essex Pedal Power bike can help to improve mental wellbeing. Essex Pedal Power work closely with Community Voluntary Services Tendring (CVST) to get the community active and have recently started giving out bike through social prescribing referrals.

Jacqui Giffin, a social prescriber at CVST, said feedback from those given a bike has been heartwarming. She said: “We had one man, called Tony, who we referred for a bike and it’s done wonders for him. He’s in his 50s and is signed off from work due to an injury, but having a bike means he is now able to go for rides along the seafront, which has had a huge impact on improving his mental health. He also rides back and forward to his mum’s house too and can visit her easily and stay for a few hours to chat and help walk the dog. Tony told me it’s become his solace to get out in the fresh air and has enabled him to meet others.”

Essex Pedal Power in Harwich is the only one in north Essex currently giving out children’s bikes. Emma Gooch was given a bike to help with getting to and from school. She was also able to receive a bikeability course, which helped build her confidence riding a bike before she started her new school in September. Her dad, Aaron, was also able to get a free bike, so they can now enjoy going out on cycle rides together. He said: “Emma is loving every moment cycling, she takes her bike everywhere, scouts, Boogie Shoes Dance and school. The best part of it was I was given the chance to have a bike from EPP which has allowed me to go on outings with my daughter, be that may adventure trails, going to town, cycling along the beach and our bond is forever closer as now I am able to actively share an interest in one of Emma’s major hobbies.”

Harwich is also the only pedal power to be giving out child seats on adult bikes as part of a pilot project. Natasha Lawes, 35, was one of the first to be given one and took part in the first EPP led ride in Harwich earlier this month. She said: “I’m a single parent and I have four children, the youngest is a baby and the eldest is at high school. I use my bike to get to work and to take the children to school. I have two children that are at different primary schools and my bike allows me and my children to get to the schools on time. I can also take my baby in the child seat too, so I don’t need to find someone to have him on the school run. My baby enjoys the child seat and my children use their bikes a lot.”

Partnered with Active Essex Local Delivery Pilot, Sport England, Essex County Council, NHS Suffolk and North Essex, The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS), Tendring District Council, the London Marathon Foundation (LMF) and Community Voluntary Services Tendring (CVST), Essex Pedal Power provides bikes to those in deprived areas, improving the exercise and activity in Clacton, Jaywick Sands, Harwich and Dovercourt.

For more information on how to apply for Essex Pedal Power bike visit Essex Pedal Power – Active Essex