Wheels for All is using the power of cycling to help Merseyside stroke survivors on their road to recovery.

The charity has worked to provide an opportunity for people with disabilities and differing needs to be engaged in cycling. They have done this through providing adapted cycles and the creation of inclusive groups up and down the country. 

Wheels For All’s Litherland hub has been regularly attended by many members of another organisation called ‘Merseyside Life After Stroke’ which is made up of stroke survivors. The members of the group have made the Wheels For All sessions a key part of their physiotherapy by using the sport of cycling to help in their rehabilitation.  

The Merseyside co-ordinator of Wheels For All Sean Tierney has witnessed the work and effort the attendees from Merseyside Life After Stroke have shown. The consistent engagement from the stroke survivors has had positive results for their health and recovery, which is something the charity is proud to be a part of. 

Tierney said: “We’re really proud we have an organisation called ‘Merseyside Life After Stroke’ who attend sessions at Litherland. It’s a group of people who are recovering from strokes. They come back every week and for a lot of them it’s been a really key part of their physiotherapy in their rehabilitation, and we’ve seen them improve week by week and month by month.” 

Wheels For All Litherland’s hub is home to the members that have shown their will power through being unwaveringly consistent no matter the weather. The experience of working with the group’s members has been humbling for Tierney.  

He said: “The fact that we’re able to play some part in that, the fact that we’re able to offer our equipment and our services to those people that’s something that I think I’ve been really humbled to be a part of.

“It’s testament to the people that are a part of that group’s will power and tenacity that they come and cycle every week even when it’s cold and raining.” 

Merseyside Life After Stroke are a great example of the organisations that Wheels For All have engaged and created connections with, but community engagement is a goal and practice for hubs all over Merseyside. Working with groups where members will benefit from attending their sessions is something the charity have been interested in consistently and in multiple hubs.

Tierney said: “We work with all sorts of organisations in general, it’s something we try to do. We try to make sure we have a really strong community outreach and work with any local organisations.

“Birkenhead Park has a lot of strong connections with local day centres who have been long time attendees. We definitely try to work with organisations which have people that might benefit from what we have got to offer at the sessions.

“Some of the organisations who attend have been coming for a long time, so it becomes part of the culture to come cycling once a week.” 

The interaction and participation of the groups is not only important to its members but to the Wheel For All staff and volunteers too. Working with such people is a constant reminder of the meaning their role has to them. The purpose this gives the staff is a highlight of the job. 

Tierney said: “It’s one of the highlights of the job things like that, you can see what it means to people. It’s a very purposeful thing to be involved in, that part of the work ends up being some of the most fulfilling.”  

Riding on a bike can be a chance to appreciate one’s individuality for the members of the groups and in that shared experience of freedom and enjoyment it creates a community. There is a chance for the members to experience a very meaningful moment of independence as they cycle by themselves.  

 “It’s a really nice way for people to gain some independence,” said Tierney.

“Sometimes when people attend our centres, they might spend a lot of time in groups or time with carers. When you get on a bike and ride round a track it gives you a sense of freedom and independence.

“They get to experience that independence together and that’s a really nice way to build a community, to be able to do something a bit different together.”  

Merseyside Life After Stroke and other similar groups as well as individuals that attend Wheels For All’s sessions are deeply appreciated by the charity. They have come to the hubs with determination, enthusiasm and have created a community out of the sessions.

“It’s really about the people that come and use the service,” finished Tierney.