Erskine Veterans partner with Maryhill charity Common Wheel to build bespoke bikes - and tackle isolation

Erskine is partnering with Glasgow mental health charity Common Wheel to get Veterans on their bikes, thanks to a £35,000 donation from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.

Erskine Home Veterans repairing bikes at The Common Wheel in Glasgow. Picture: Jamie Williamson

What’s happening? Erskine’s Reid Macewen Activities Centre (ERMAC) has teamed up with Common Wheel to deliver a ‘Build Your Own Bike’ programme for Veterans, which will see 20 Veterans complete the course over the coming year.

The Veterans taking part are working with the Common Wheel bike engineers, in Maryhill, to design, build and keep their own, bespoke bike. The course accommodates Veterans of all abilities and skill levels.

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Why it matters: Common Wheel aims to improve mental wellbeing, increase skills, and reduce isolation through the provision of meaningful activities, an ethos shared by ERMAC.

Each year, Erskine provides crucial support to nearly 1,000 Veterans and their spouses. However, to do so Erskine must raise around £10 million annually in order to maintain the level of high-quality care provided.

How to help: You can also support Erskine by visiting their website.

Debs Dickson, Erskine Reid Macewen Activities Centre Manager, said: “The Build Your Own Bike’ Project complements our provision of meaningful activity and increases our network of specialist partnerships working in support of our Veterans. We are very excited that these courses are now up and running, as the concept proved to be very popular during our consultations with members.”

Alison Sommerville, Project Manager from Common Wheel added: “Common Wheel is excited to be working with Erskine to bring ‘Build Your Own Bike’ to a whole new group of participants. By working together, we are providing a comprehensive programme specifically tailored to the needs of the Veteran community.

“The partnership approach ensures that people are supported along the way and that both organisations are able to learn from each other. We know that there is a link between good physical health and good mental health. Building your own bike gives you the means to improve both.”

Sonia Howe, Director of Policy for the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, said: “This project embodies the ethos of our Positive Pathways programme. The Veterans involved will be learning new skills and getting out and active in a project that means something to them and results in something they can use and enjoy, knowing they've made the bike themselves. We wish Erskine and the Veterans involved all the best with these interesting workshops.”