Everyday Cycling Heroes: Chris

Chris was experiencing homelessness when we first encountered him at the Rodney Street Shelter. 

Bike for Good ran some rides with the homeless shelter, to get people out and about exercising. Chris came along on one of our rides and he got chatting to Paul, our Bike Academy training officer.

Chris seemed keen on the bike, so we offered him a spot on a Build Your Own Bike (BYOB) course we were running for the Rodney Street shelter, where we teach the building and maintenance of a bike, and the participants get to keep their bike at the end of the course. Chris had heard of other people doing this course before, and described being offered a place as “an absolute Brucey bonus!”

“I found it brilliant. We were learning how to put bikes together, figure out why brakes were squeaking, and how to fix everything! The way it was taught was really good and I’m so confident to do all that stuff now.”

Before his interaction with Bike for Good, Chris had fixed the odd puncture or two but didn’t have a strong connection to bikes. He told us that he had a bike years ago and his dad had tried to teach him … but he was “too wild and couldn’t take any of it in”.

Chris is now full of passion for his bike and the course. Plans are in place for him to move into a home of his own in Scotstounhill and he can’t wait to get out and about cycling on the canal paths there. 

“Everything was crazy for a long time but now I’m in a recovery plan and things are looking so positive. I’m moving into my own place now and it feels like a real turning point, like it’s the start of the rest of my life.”

Chris is totally honest in telling us that he’s spent a lot of his life in a negative environment, and that spending time at Bike for Good in such a “positive environment with a good atmosphere” was amazing for his mental health.

“I loved it – it was so laid-back and welcoming and that was really good for me. Paul was great and helped us all so much.”

A great advantage of taking up cycling for Chris has been the realisation of how close places actually are, and how easy it is to get about by bike. Originally Chris had thought Rodney Street was pretty far from other places because he’d only ever made that journey in a taxi through the busy roads of Glasgow. When he rode there with the group and realised it only took around 10 minutes he was so surprised. He told us “I can get places so much easier now”.

We feel honoured that once Chris is settled in his new home he wants to come along and volunteer his time with us. He says:

“I just found it such a positive environment and want to keep doing it. And the fact that you guys would want me to [volunteer] is huge, I don’t get a lot of positivity in life so that is a big compliment.”

At Bike for Good we encourage volunteers from all different backgrounds and skillsets, providing development opportunities for people to learn and upskill. It makes us so happy that people are willing to come and join the family by volunteering their time.

This work was made possible thanks to funding from the Smarter Choices Smarter Places local authority fund.

As a charity we get a real buzz from hearing that we have played a part in changing Chris’ life. If you are interested in skills or development opportunities in cycling, please contact thebikeacademy@bikeforgood.org.uk.

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