Diagnosed with PTSD and severe anxiety, Steven, from Inverness, could not envisage a future when he would be able to enjoy being outside getting fresh air and exercise.
But after joining the WheelNess project - which gives people in the local area free access to a bike - Steven now has taken up cycling and is starting to explore his community and rebuild his confidence.
He said: “It’s great, I was out on my bike all day. It’s really helped me.
"You’re getting some exercise, you’re getting the fresh air, you’re getting out and about. When you used to be stuck in a house for 10 years, it makes a lot of difference.”
WheelNess is a project led by the charity Cycling UK in the Inverness area of Scotland which helps people dealing with long term health conditions, social isolation, those on low incomes or anyone who needs a helping hand to start cycling.
The aim is to help people make positive changes to their lives and wellbeing through cycling, with the added benefits of bringing down transport costs and reconnecting with the outdoors. WheelNess project workers are able to provide help and support along the cycling journey, from accompanying people to choose their bike through to guided rides and workshops where they are taught how to maintain it.
Brendan Dougan is a Senior Development Officer for Cycling UK. He said: “WheelNess has helped the local community by increasing the number of people travelling actively in Inverness. “This directly benefits the health and wellbeing of these people, in addition to other knock on effects, including contributing to healthier streets and communities.
“Those who have accessed a bike through Wheelness can feel the mental and physical health benefits of using the bike, as well as having an opportunity to save money on travel.”
Steven was the 100th person to join the project, but WheelNess want to reach many more. To help them spread the word they are asking people to follow them on Facebook and Twitter in order to share and engage with what they are doing.
See facebook.com/wheelnessinv/ and facebook.com/CyclingUKScotland/ for more information.
By Jenna Sloan