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NewsCommunityActive travel initiative launched thanks to vital funding

Active travel initiative launched thanks to vital funding

Local youths in North Lanarkshire saddle up for extra-curricular skills training

A COMMUNITY group in Shotts has launched an initiative that is providing youngsters in the area with skills and training in bike maintenance.

Getting Better Together (GBT) received £24,165 through walking charity Paths for All’s Smarter Choices, Smarter Places (SCSP) COP26 Legacy Fund – a programme aimed at encouraging active and sustainable travel choices.

GBT launched ‘The Future Friday’s Project’ in partnership with Calderhead High School and North Lanarkshire Council after the school curriculum announced Friday afternoons were to be dedicated to personal development where pupils can take part in extra-curricular activities.

The project, located in the Shotts Healthy Living Centre, looks to revive old bikes brought in from the local recycling facility which will either be stripped for parts to be reused on others, or refurbished to be loaned, sold or donated with the hope of increasing active travel locally, and having a positive impact on waste reduction.

Craig Bridges is the strategic lead for the Get Active-Get Going work stream within GBT which has the goal of making cycling affordable and accessible, and oversees the Future Friday project.

He said: “As changes in the curriculum came into effect, it presented an opportunity to launch an initiative for youths between 14-16 to develop key skills while doing something they enjoy.

“We’ve got eight boys involved in the bike service and going through the training process with us. Once they have completed training, they should be in a position to go onto teach other pupils within the active travel hub at Calderhead High School.

“The project has given us the chance to identify youngsters who have a particular interest in mechanics and look to see what qualifications, placements or job roles we can assist them with.

“Five pupils have already gone through their bronze cycling mechanics qualification.”

GBT work with people of all ages and have the support of local partners and funders to deliver activities its Healthy Living Centre in Shotts including community café, catering service and community shop through a variety of programmes like Early Years activities, Youth Programmes, Older People Services, Intergenerational Projects, Partnership Projects and Health and Wellbeing activities.

Craig added: “The project has developed further in the community and we have been able to introduce a bike loan scheme to promote active travel which has been really successful so far.

“The group doesn’t just fill an afternoon that was previously spent at school, it equips pupils with lifelong skills that will be fundamental to their personal development and we’re really delighted to see how much they are getting from it already.”

In response to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in late 2021, SCSP made £110,000 of funding available to form a COP26 Legacy Fund. The fund was open to projects that would specifically link transport with the wider environmental agenda.

GBT was one of six projects in Scotland to benefit from the funding allowing the group to improve the lives of people living in North Lanarkshire.

Graham McQueen, Smarter Choices, Smarter Places Manager at Paths for All said: “Getting Better Together is making a massive difference in North Lanarkshire and its contribution to make active travel more accessible will be benefited for years to come.

“By supporting more people in Scotland to walk, wheel, and cycle for everyday short journeys, we will improve health, create safer communities, and reduce environmental impacts.

“This work is a blueprint for how groups can work collaboratively with members of the community and empower them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to sustain long term behaviour changes.”

The SCSP Open Fund was created in 2018 to support behaviour change towards more sustainable forms of transport. The fund has since awarded over 9.3million to public, third and community sector organisations.

Funding of up to £50,000 is now available through the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places Open Fund. If you have an idea for a project that will encourage people to travel in a more sustainable way, please get in touch with the team at [email protected]

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