The sight of older people enjoying the outdoors on a free bike tour may soon become commonplace in Scotland, after ministers decided to fund the nationwide roll-out of a pilot program.
The Cycling Without Age project was a big hit after being introduced to Falkirk, with a video clip of the idea in action generating huge interest online.
“The only time they went out was with their family or during activities at home”
Fraser Johnston, volunteer
The program sees volunteer cyclists pick up elderly people from their homes or nursing homes and take them for a ride on a trishaw, a three-wheeled vehicle used in some countries as a taxi.
The Falkirk project has been operational since March with a team of around 30 people, but gained worldwide fame last month after being featured on BBC3 Amazing Humans series.
A clip from the project, showing 20-year-old volunteer Fraser Johnston taking Mary Duncan, a resident of a local nursing home, for a bike ride, has been viewed more than 20 million times in five days.
The pilot program initially received £ 36,000 from the Scottish government and the EU’s European Social Fund, but ministers have now decided to increase funding to allow the project to be rolled out nationwide.
This is the first time that the Cycling Without Age concept, which started in Denmark in 2012, has been extended to an entire country.
“It’s easy to see why the video featuring Fraser and his enthusiastic passengers has become such a global social media hit – it’s a great project,” Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman said.
“I am delighted to announce that the Scottish Government will now work with Cycling Without Age to ensure that older people across Scotland can experience nature and feel the wind in their hair.
“We are already providing financial support for the program here in Falkirk and we want to see this great initiative spread across the country. “
She added that if there was “a lot of work to be done” on the details of the program, the Scottish government would provide financial support to enable older people across the country to benefit from similar projects.
Mr Johnston said the program had grown from “strength to strength” since its launch in Falkirk, adding that he was “delighted” to see it become a national project.
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In the BBC video, the medical student said getting on a trishaw is a perfect way for older people who would otherwise be stuck at home to get out and get around. One of the beneficiaries of the project is 93.
“The only time they’ve gone out is with their family or for activities at home, but it’s normally from the house to a car to a bus to the next place,” he said. -he declares.
“For some of them it’s such a weird thing when you say ‘Get out on the bike’, because they think they’re going to pedal.
“But when they find out that it’s a young or an old volunteer who brings them out, they jump at the chance.