We are excited to announce a new research and pilot project which aims to improve young womxn’s well-being through access to a bike and the skills to fix it!
What’s the problem?
An increasing body of research highlights the shocking number of young women who struggle with mental health problems. One recent study from UCL showed that as many as 1 in 4 fourteen year old girls suffer from symptoms of depression or anxiety.
We know from over 11 years of work repairing and rehoming bicycles, that riding bikes, having access to our community workshop and the confidence and skills to fix your own bike can lead to significant improvements in people’s life prospects, predicted health outcomes, and above all mental well-being.
Despite these clear benefits, our community workshops are still struggling to reach womxn, and particularly young womxn. Whilst our Womxn’s Night is thriving, men still make up the vast majority of those who access our programmes, as well as our volunteers, Co-op members and staff. This imbalance is most pronounced in our young peoples’ programmes where only a tiny minority of those who attend are girls or young womxn.
What are we planning to do about it?
Thanks to funding from the School for Social Entrepreneurs, we are undertaking a research and pilot community project which looks to unearth the reasons why more young womxn are not accessing our programmes and to investigate the potential mental health benefits for those that do.
The pilot project will offer 6 young womxn a 6 week bike maintenance course during which they will refurbish a bike to take away. As well as learning valuable mechanic skills and building confidence in the workshop, the young womxn will play a key role in steering our wider research on the barriers stopping womxn accessing our workshop. This will inform changes to BBP’s programmes and practices, hopefully increasing participation of people from all walks of life and increasing our social impact.
What are we hoping to achieve?
We want to empower young womxn to cycle more and to fix their own bikes and in the process, go some way towards safeguarding their mental health and increasing community engagement.
We are excited by the opportunity this funding affords us to delve deeper into the gender imbalance within the cycling world and the role bikes play in tackling mental health problems. We hope our findings will also assist other bicycle co-ops and charities in Bristol, the UK and around the world by widening their evidence base and inform their practices.