Reconnecting older people with their communities

Inspired by the international Cycling Without Age initiative, the St Hugh’s Hospital Triobike Project provides miles of smiles for older people through pedal power.

In December 2018, we and Navigo, North East Lincolnshire’s mental health service provider, collectively invested just over £11,000 in purchasing two triobikes to help combat loneliness and social isolation in our community.

Triobikes are battery-assisted trishaw cycles operated by volunteer pilots who take older people out for a spin in the fresh air… people who might not otherwise see the sights and sounds of their neighbourhoods in this way.

We teamed up with Friendship At Home, a Grimsby-based befriending charity whose mission is to improve the lives of older people, and ever since we have been taking its members on pleasant, gentle jaunts around the local area.

Triobike

Why we do this...

Supporting the community is a large part of what we do here at St Hugh’s Hospital – in fact, it’s a major element of the ethos on which the Healthcare Management Trust (HMT), that manages us, is built. HMT is a charitable organisation assisting communities through care and treatment, support, and research, promoting healthy lifestyles and education. These principals are the foundation stones of St Hugh’s Hospital, its work, and its staff.

Perhaps the greatest public health challenges facing our society today is the impact of an ageing population, so that’s why the ageing process and dementia is a focus of our wider charitable work. Our partnership with Friendship At Home, through the wider St Hugh’s Project, which the triobike is a part of, directly helps and supports older people.

Julie Rigby, Friendship At Home’s development manager, explains:

“We’ve been working with St Hugh’s Hospital for more than four years, and the triobike is just one part of how the hospital helps our work. It’s a brilliant project – getting older people out and about, especially those with limited mobility, is vital to their wellbeing.”

How it works...

The triobike is a smart piece of kit! It’s a specially adapted trishaw cycle operated by volunteer pilots, with room for two front-facing passengers, so everyone can enjoy the views on the rides… and it’s battery-assisted, to give the pilot a little bit of pedal power uphill, which makes it very easy to manage.

For passengers, there’s a safe and secure padded seat, with a comfortable footrest and seatbelts. Its clever design includes a removable footplate that means it’s just as accessible for people with mobility or walking difficulties; getting on and off is simple and comfortable. There’s a retractable hood, for shade from the sunshine or shelter from wind and rain, which comes with all-round windows, so you don’t miss a second of the scenery going by. For the pilot, it’s almost effortless to ride thanks to the battery power it contains.

Impressed? Well, this certainly is top of the range!

Who does this...

We’ve already mentioned our pals at Friendship At Home; at the moment, we provide triobike rides for its members. Our pilots – the people who ride the bikes – are volunteers, spending a couple of hours in the saddle. Not only do pilots get to enjoy the fresh air and great views our area has to offer, there’s the added benefit of great company, too, as Gary Allington, Health Promotion Officer at St Hugh’s and the lead pilot, explains.

“It’s just as beneficial for pilots as it is for the people enjoying the ride. It’s so lovely to have a chat with them and hear them talking about what they’re seeing and feeling and reminiscing about the area in days gone by,” he says. “This is exactly the effect we want the rides to have.

“We want to help those who might not otherwise be able to get out much – if at all, to remember what it is to feel the benefits of fresh air and social interaction.

“It gives me such a buzz. All of our passengers always have huge smiles on their faces, without fail, which says it all!”

Gary says it’s also beneficial to the pilot, by having a bit of exercise. And yes, we are on the look-out for new recruits, if you’d like to join him!

Where and when we do this…

Triobike rides take place on dates pre-arranged with Friendship At Home throughout the year. We try to choose fair weather days, but the triobike is fully equipped with a waterproof hood and cosy blanket in case the forecast changes… and so far, our passengers have enjoyed trips in drizzle just as much as sunshine. Each session lasts between two and three hours, depending on the number of passengers booked in – the more, the merrier.

We’ve taken passengers around Haverstoe Park, in Cleethorpes, and along the promenade, too. Give us a wave if you spot us!

Get involved...

If you’re from a local organisation and interested in finding out more about our triobike rides and what it involves, call Gary Allington on 01472 251100. That’s if you think we can help you by providing rides, and also by sharing what we know to help you set up your own project.

Become a pilot! Sign up with Friendship At Home and take passengers out for rides. There’s no minimum commitment – just the willingness to donate your time, whatever you can give. Full training and support is given, so what are you waiting for? Get in touch now with Friendship At Home on 01472 602500.

And just in case you need a final bit of persuasion, take a look at the St Hugh’s Hospital Facebook page for the triobike photo album… and see the smiles for yourself!

Thanks to…

The booking office at Cleethorpes Railway and TransPennine Express for storing our triobike and arranging access when we need it; and Cycle Hub Lincs for keeping it in tip-top condition.

Trio Bike Gallery

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Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Quisque orci est, tempus eget laoreet ac, aliquet eget diam. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia curae; Integer vitae mollis urna, sit amet maximus felis. In augue nulla, tempus sed sollicitudin quis, luctus a orci. Nam lobortis pharetra magna, eget imperdiet odio ultrices non. Curabitur mollis sem eget interdum fermentum. Donec cursus condimentum magna, at lacinia orci congue at. Nunc quam libero, blandit non semper at, cursus non mi. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam tincidunt est in leo laoreet porttitor. Sed consequat cursus purus. Curabitur consequat pretium dapibus. Praesent tempor semper mi sed malesuada. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Quisque orci est, tempus eget laoreet ac, aliquet eget diam.

Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia curae; Integer vitae mollis urna, sit amet maximus felis. In augue nulla, tempus sed sollicitudin quis, luctus a orci. Nam lobortis pharetra magna, eget imperdiet odio ultrices non. Curabitur mollis sem eget interdum fermentum. Donec cursus condimentum magna, at lacinia orci congue at. Nunc quam libero, blandit non semper at, cursus non mi. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos.