International Volunteers day: Empowering women who cycle

A women’s cycling group based in Manchester do their annual food, gift and toy collection to give back this Christmas.

Lady Pedal Manchester is a cycling community of women, which first formed in 2016. It originally aimed to motivate women to get out and cycle, with a large emphasis on teaching females bikers maintenance and how to fix their own bikes, as well as bringing about a supportive and inclusive community for all women. 

The group’s annual Christmas collection began in lockdown, where they offered to come collect donations directly from people’s homes and received a great response from people across Manchester, Stockport, Trafford and Salford. 

 Beth Craigen, one of the groups six main organisers, said: “We knew people were stuck at home and couldn’t go anywhere but they also still wanted to be able to give to charity, but couldn’t do it in a way they could normally.”

So far this year the group has collected over 80 bags, amounting to over 300 over the past three years. The donations are then cycled to Emmeline’s pantry, another woman led organisation – a food bank which supports women and their families who are struggling.

Christmas collection. Credit: Lady Pedal Manchester Facebook

Over the years many studies have been done on volunteering such as by Harvard University and the National Institute of health on the positive impact it can have on people’s health such as trends showing volunteers have lower blood pressure and levels of anxiety and depression. 

When asked why she volunteered Craigen responded that: “We’ve all been on our journeys, we’ve all has different challenges… and being able to pass on that knowledge and support has been really important…it’s good to give back to a community that’s given a lot to us” 

As well as bringing a community of women together, Lady Pedal has also provided funding for some of its volunteers to do training and gain qualifications, such as to become ride leader or coaches and has even seen some of its volunteers become bike mechanics.

A bike maintenence lesson in action. Credit: Lady Pedal Manchester Facebook

“Its about sharing what we’ve got out of cycling and sharing it with other people and you get to see the end result!.. its amazing seeing other people’s journeys.”

One memorable mention is Belinda Everett, a friend of Lady Pedal, who has worked on various different projects, who now runs her own cycling group ‘Bee Pedal ready” focusing on women from diverse communities, aiming to combat their lack of representation. Everett also recently became the Greater Manchester Bicycle Mayor.

Belinda Everett speaking at Lady Pedal’s Woman cycling stories event. Credit: Lady Pedal Manchester Facebook page.

“We like to invite everybody to come to our women cycling stories events to show what woman are doing and how great they are…we aim to empower and inspire all people to get more involved in cycling.”

If you would like to get involved in any of Lady Pedals upcoming events or volunteer yourself, make sure to have a look at their Facebook and Instagram pages, where they will post when the next meeting is.

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