Who, what, where, why and how

Our Social Mission – aspiring to inspire

Poor mental health and long-term unemployment is a reality for many of our young people today. Cycling Minds CIC was incorporated in Hexham (Northumberland) in November 2021 by three locals with a love of cycling to address both these major issues facing young people (initially 16-24) in West Northumberland struggling to engage with society and the job market, find their way in life and fulfil their full potential – especially those experiencing poor mental health and/or from disadvantaged backgrounds. We provide our beneficiaries free access to an e-bike to take part in our Step On(e) guided ride programme, principally to help enhance their mental and physical health but also to encourage them to join Cycling Minds which will act as an anchor organisation, providing them with opportunities to interact with the local cycling community, receive training through our Persevere to Succeed programme as bike mechanics and ride leaders and in customer service to be able to volunteer (and eventually gain paid work) with Cycling Minds in a fun, sociable and nurturing environment.

From the beginning, Cycling Minds’ core social purpose and how it fulfils this has been inspired by and informed through extensive talks with numerous local social and health care providers as well as other local charities and community initiatives. They have been hugely enthusiastic about Cycling Minds because, as they have pointed out, it targets an age group that is currently underprovided for in Northumberland. Referrers report a lack of options for them to signpost the young people they care for to organisations offering sports-related activities for that cohort, particularly sports that are non-competitive and outdoors. Cycling Minds helps fill this gap while also going a step further and giving our young beneficiaries a chance to gain a foothold in the labour market.

Ultimately, Cycling Minds aims to establish a virtuous circle where we leverage cycling as a sport to engage young people initially and then foster a long-lasting relationship with them so that they can develop the skills and knowledge needed to work with us as active participants in developing a permanent home for our community cycle hub (The Link) and ambassadors for cycling in their local communities.

The project is funded by providing a raft of cycling-related services in Hexham and the surrounding area from The Link. All surpluses generated by Cycling Minds are put back into the project to increase how many young people we can help and to offer subsidised and free bikes and bike repairs to customers from disadvantaged backgrounds and run free bike skills sessions and guided rides for the local community.

As a community-interest company limited by guarantee, Cycling Minds is an asset-locked body meaning all its assets can never be cashed in by private individuals or companies for their own gain and must be transferred to another CIC or charity if it were wound up. Cycling Minds’ assets would be transferred en bloc to the local charity The Hextol Foundation.

Cycling Minds pop-up bike repairs
Free pop-up bike repairs on Priestlands estate (March 2022)

Our Team

Cycling Minds was envisaged by Toby Price, a keen cyclist and big believer in the power of cycling to improve not just physical but also mental health. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic when the mental health of the nation is suffering more than ever, Toby felt it was time to do something to support young people across West Northumberland by introducing them to cycling and all its benefits.

During the first lockdown, Toby had run a very popular free bike repair service for key workers and it was that experience that gave him the inspiration to build Cycling Minds around a bike recycling, hire and repair service, having seen that there was a need for these services in Hexham and the surrounding area.

Toby is ably supported by an enthusiastic team of volunteers from all walks of life and as Cycling Minds’ young beneficiaries are trained in bike maintenance, ride leadership and customer service, he’ll increasingly be able to draw on their help too.

Our Directors

Toby Price

General Manager

Toby is a freelance Spanish translator specialising in finance, insurance, banking and the energy sector and has been a youth football coach with a local girls’ team in Hexham for four years. He is a keen cyclist and has repaired bikes for members of his local cycling club, Allen Valley Velo, friends and family for several years.

Dominic Cook

Non-Executive Director

Dominic is currently a director with one of the world’s leading engineering professional services consultancies, WSP. He has been involved with local community activities through the Hexham Round Table – treasurer for Hexham Round Table for two years, Chair for one year – helping to organise numerous community events and raise funds for local good causes.  He competes in triathlons and has also been treasurer for the One Life triathlon club for three years.

Michael Williams

Non-executive Director

Michael is Managing Director of Hexham based PDL Solutions (Europe) ltd. Outside of work, Michael volunteers as a Scout Section Assistant supporting a very active Scout group in Barrasford, and has recently gained further responsibility within the Explorers section. Michael has a passion for cycling, whether that be on the local trails on his mountain bike or on the many and varied Northumbrian country lanes with a bunch of like-minded road cyclists.

Cycling Minds

Our Advisory Board

We couldn’t have got Cycling Minds up and riding without the invaluable support of our Advisory Board of volunteer experts in different fields including: Ted Liddle, cycling development and tourism specialist; Thomas Hardy, Twelfth City Cyclery bike shop owner; Justin Rowntree from SweetSpot, advisor and fundraiser for a successful social enterprise working with young people with mental health challenges (Blend Kitchen); Stef Anderson, Fundraising and Communications Lead at Ouseburn Farm Charity in Newcastle; Linz Philips, former EVP at Sage and board member of Dynamo North East and Digital Leaders; and Tania Thomas, Team Leader of the NHS Living Well Coordination Service.

They have provided guidance during start-up and will continue to do so as we develop.

Cycling Minds

Partners

Cycling Minds wouldn’t have been possible without the financial backing of our funders: Hexham Town Council, Northumberland County Council , Northumberland National Park, Sport England (through Cycling UK) and the Alpkit Foundation, and initial advice and help from numerous people including: Jordan Metters at Cycling UK; Deni Riach from Nature’s Living Room; Northumberland County Councillor, Suzanne Fairless-Aitken; Chip Ponsford from Heartwood; Recyke Y’ Bike, WATBike, and the team at Adapt NE among many others.

The project relies on local health and social care providers and social prescribers, charities and community groups to signpost and refer the young people they help to Cycling Minds. These include: the Living Well Coordination Service funded by the West Northumberland Primary Care Network, Northumberland County Council’s Northumberland Communities Together and Public Health Wellbeing Services, Adult Social Care, Children’s Services and Public Health teams, Hexham Youth Initiative, Gateway into the Community, StopGap Supported Housing, Number 28 Community Project and the Hextol Foundation.

Cycling Minds

Our Ambassadors

Ollie Hart

Dr Ollie Hart

GP Partner and Clinical Director of Heeley Plus Primary Care Network

Known as Doc on a Bike after he pledged to swap a car for an e-bike for his work as a GP partner in Sheffield, Dr Ollie Hart has joined Cycling Minds as an ambassador, attracted by our sports health and training programme which will make a valuable contribution to fulfilling the NHS’s targets for person-centred care and social prescribing under its Comprehensive Model for Personalised Care.

A Clinical Director of Heeley Plus Primary Care Network, Ollie is a personalised care lead with the Royal College of GPs, and one of two global Health and Wellbeing ambassadors for parkrun. He is also a director of Peak Health Coaching and has a strong interest in integrating conventional medical provision with addressing social determinants of health, sitting on the steering group of the national think tank, Rethinking Medicine. He has been at the forefront of championing person-centred care since 2014, engaging 70 GP practices to develop person-centred care skills.

John Holmes

John Holmes

Governor of Northumberland College

John, from Corbridge, is a retired Chartered Surveyor with a career in Development, Housing, Regeneration, Economic Development, Heritage Management and Tourism in both the public, private and charitable sectors. He now chairs the Bernicia Housing Group, is a Governor of Northumberland College, is a Trustee of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums Development Trust and is a volunteer driver for a local charity.

He has always been passionate about cycling and has taken part in many coast-to-coast rides and several fundraising rides including for a Rumanian children’s charity. His latest project is the Cuthbert Cycling Challenge which retraces the route that the monks took when they left Lindisfarne and eventually led to the building of the Cuthbert’s shrine in Durham Cathedral. John will do the entire ride of over 540 miles and work closely with Cycling Minds on seeking partnership support for legacy projects through his wide network of local business contacts..

Cycling Minds

Our Patron

Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

Dr Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

Northumberland County Councillor and Hexham Town Councillor

We are proud to have as our patron Northumberland County Councillor and Hexham Town Councillor, Dr Suzanne Fairless-Aitken. Suzanne has experienced first-hand how cycling helps manage mental health and decided to support the project as patron because, in her words: “Cycling Minds very much ticks most of our list of priorities for Hexham – a sustainable social enterprise that will bring huge benefits to the health of residents and generate valuable tourism opportunities attracting visitors to the town. A happy and healthy Hexham – a win-win! It’s an opportunity for our youngsters to volunteer, be trained and learn essential life-skills which is until now unprecedented in the area – and this doesn’t even touch on the obvious, positive mental-health benefits of cycling, especially for those with post-lockdown issues that have been sadly all too noticeable among young people”.