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Cycling scheme offers free rides to kids

Youngsters from Brighton and Hove try out the new mountain bikes stored at Falmer Sports Complex as part of a new bike club initiative, launched October 2011

A new scheme to get disadvantaged local youngsters on their bikes was launched at Falmer Sports Complex on campus yesterday evening (Wednesday 12 October). 

Using the University as a base to store a fleet of mountain bikes, the new Brighton & Hove MTB Bike Club will run regular cycle rides for young people from across the city. 

Sussex is one of seven local organisations (also including the Students' Union) taking part in the scheme. 

Bike Club - a national organisation set up to encourage cycling among young people - has provided more than £10,000 for the project. It has also received a Youth Capital grant and funding from Brighton and Hove City Council's Transport Planning department. 

Staff and students at Sussex are able to take advantage by joining lunchtime and evening cycle rides, which are free to gold and silver Sussexsport members. In addition, members of the Students' Union mountain bike club have free access to the bikes. 

Karen Creffield, head of Sussexsport - the University's sports service - said: "It is a great opportunity to work together with other organisations in the area: not only to support disadvantaged young people but also to provide a brilliant resource for our staff and students to enjoy and use. 

"We've been working on this since the beginning of the year so, while we did run some bike rides over the summer, I am delighted that we have now been able to properly launch the initiative. 

"The combined support from Bike Club and the enthusiasm and generosity of our staff to take this forward has made this an incredibly exciting project." 

Seven members of the Sussexsport team, and four from the Students' Union, have been trained in mountain bike leadership, first aid and bike maintenance, which means they can run their own bike rides with young people for years to come. 

An additional part of the project sees the University strengthen its widening participation work. Pupils from local schools who visit the University can now enjoy cycling and learn about maintenance even if they don't otherwise have access to a bike. 

Sussexsport staff are also volunteering hours to support local youth groups using the bikes. 

The launch at Falmer Sports Complex was attended by some of the young people who will be using the bikes, as well as Professor Michael Farthing, the Vice-Chancellor, and members of staff from Sussexsport. 

The other organisations involved in running the project are Tarnerland Children and Young People's Project; 67 Centre; Deans Youth Project; Brighton & Hove Fostering Service / Intensive Placement Team; and Active for Life. Each organisation works with different young people, many of whom are from low-income families or are in care.

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By: James Hakner
Last updated: Thursday, 13 October 2011