Over the Easter holidays I took the opportunity to take a better look at the community activities in my local area, Oldham. After reading this article in the Independent that names Oldham ‘the most deprived town in England. The article is a feature of one mans personal and quite frankly humorous opinion on the towns deprivation from the point of view of a local resident. Shortly after reading this article I felt almost obligated to question and try to tackle this rather brutal statement about the town I’ve grown up in. So from there I searched the Oldham council website where I read about activities offered in the local area for people with disabilities and one in particular, Ability Wheelz (formally Wheels For All).
Local cycling project Ability Wheelz (formally Wheels for all) is one of many projects offered to people with disabilities across the borough of Oldham.
Ability Wheels is a cycling project funded by donations and the Council that has over 75 bikes that range from two-man riders to bikes that carry wheelchairs, suited to help cater for people with physical and learning disabilities, ranging from autism to Rett Syndrome. The cycling takes place in and around Oldham Alexandra park throughout the week and on weekends. Making it possible for anyone and everyone to be able to ride safely around two different pathways, the long path or the short path, around the Park. Information on the times & dates the activities take place can be found here.
I got in touch with Denise Curtis, a volunteer and regular rider with Ability Wheelz who helps the bike club cater for the needs of all the people who ride with them and a local carer who also attends the bike club, Ian Davis.
Membership to the bike club isn’t necessary but for a years membership it costs only £20 per adult and £15 per child if you decide you will be biking regularly. However, if not it’s still only £6 for an adult and £5 for a child to rent out the bikes for 2 hours and enjoy a ride through Alexandra Park. Riders with memberships also receive every 6th ride free, making it more affordable for people who haven’t chosen to get a yearly membership.
If you attend the bike club as a carer for someone with a disability it is also affordable as essential carers are free. I also spoke to Ian Davis, another regular rider and carer for Stephen Nuttall who suffered from brain injuries after he was in a car accident. Ian says “Theres always something to do with your day and for me and Steve, being able to go out on the bikes and ride around the park at our own pace is great.”
You can find the Ability Wheelz Facebook page here.
Below are two YouTube videos that have been made by a group of students on their NCS task week and one that has been made by Kevin Lanham, project coordinator, himself to promote and provide some understanding of the bike clubs activities.
I hope this article helps to provide more of an insight into Ability Wheels and will allow readers to reach out and get involved in these activities if possible. Happy Cycling!