A charity in the London Borough of Croydon that is dedicated to helping disabled people enjoy cycling is appealing to local businesses for funding after it learnt its funding application to the council for the coming year had been unsuccessful.
Cycling for All, which is seeking £35,000 to ensure its survival, has previously been helped out to the tune of between £20,000 and £25,000 by Croydon Council through the allocation of funds from TfL, but now has to explore alternative avenues of finance.
The charity is operated by Wheels for Wellbeing, and is based at the Crystal Palace Sports Arena. It has helped more than 400 disabled people, together with families and carers, cycle on its three- and four-wheel bikes.
Wheels for Wellbeing manager Janet Paske told the website This Is Local London: “The council has no statutory duty to fund us. In 2007 it gave us £20,000 from a Transport for London (TfL) local implementation plan. The following year we got £23,000.”
Last year, the charity received £25,000 in TfL funding, as well as money from the Peter Harrison Foundation, and Ms Paske added: “Croydon Council has always said we must not rely on them for funding and we have not.”
She continued: “Cycling for All gives disabled people lots of fun with their family and friends. Cycling can also give a sense of freedom and independence, which others take for granted.”
People who use the charity’s facilities are hopeful that it will be able to continue to provide its services, with one, Will Plant, commenting: “In our case, people who struggle to walk can ride a cycle, giving them exercise they can’t do otherwise.”
And Jo Ward, whose son, Harvey, is autistic, said: “This is a wonderful scheme for kids with special needs. They can practice their cycling skills in a safe place and there is a nice selection of bikes. Harvey loved it and will definitely come again.”
A spokesman for the local authority said: “The council has supported Cycling for All obtaining start-up funding from TfL for the past two years to get it off the ground.”
And responding to criticism that the council was cutting funding from the project while spending £25,000 recently made available by the London Mayor Boris Johnson to study improvements to cycling infrastructure generally in the borough, he added: “Biking Boroughs funding is separate from this, and our objective for it is to deliver a plan for cycling in Croydon.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.