Empowering women through community bike rides
‘Women on Bikes’ is a Liverpool based project which aims to improve the health and well-being of women through regular bike rides. We sat down with the project’s founder Shazia Chaudary, to find out more about this lockdown inspired initiative.
Tell us about the mission of Women on Bikes
Our project aims to empower women, especially those from BAME communities; creating a safe and supportive space to learn new skills and build their confidence. We believe that this project has a positive impact on communities by providing an opportunity for women to learn skills that are not only beneficial for the environment, but can also contribute to their personal and professional growth.
Since 2020 our project has benefited so many women in terms of improving their health and wellbeing. It has brought communities together, and our work has been recognised in the wider communities and by other organisations. We have won awards such as the Going the Extra Mile volunteers award, the 2023 Garry Clarke memorial cup, Community Spirit Award and One in a Hundred Women in Cycling award.
What challenges do you face?
The Covid-19 pandemic presented significant challenges for us; we had to take on a number of safety measures and ensure social distancing at all times. We often used to split the group in two, with a maximum of six on each ride, which was difficult when we had a limited number of ride leaders who could lead the rides.
Post pandemic I receive a lot of messages from women enquiring about joining our cycling group, and spend a lot of time catching up on emails and work on social media to ensure everything is up to date. Also English is my second language and sometimes I feel it’s the biggest barrier to convey my message.
How has fiscal hosting helped you?
The Social Change Nest has helped make our organisation sustainable. It’s been a great opportunity to have access to a network through virtual meetings and being part of a community sharing experiences in terms of setting up and running projects.
The Social Change Nest process was explained well and was always easy to use; it is very practical and transparent, and has been a huge help keeping my project sustainable and successful.
Do you have any practical tips or insight for others?
I would say I believe in Ubuntu, an African concept meaning “I am because we are”. It embraces the idea that humans can’t exist in isolation. We depend on connection and community; we can not be without each other. It’s best to communicate with each other in the community, and believe in yourself, when setting up your own organisation.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
We are planning to extend our bike rides to the north of Liverpool and also train more women to become ride leaders. My ambition for the future is to bring a positive change in society, to encourage more women to participate in cycling, to reduce isolation and celebrate our achievements.
Find out more about Women on Bikes womenonbikes.org.uk
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