Simon Community

Cycling Scotland team members have been supporting Simon Community with bike deliveries during Covid-19.

Since the beginning of April, the Cycling Scotland team, based in Edinburgh and Glasgow, have been volunteering their time and energy to support vulnerable people across the country.

In both cities, the team has been supporting homelessness charity, Simon Community Scotland, to ensure their services reach people who are homeless and urgently need their help. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand on the charity’s services has increased dramatically and they needed logistical support to get supplies of food, clothing and toiletries to people who are homeless, and have been accommodated across Glasgow and Edinburgh. Simon Community Scotland’s own transportation was fully utilised and physical distancing restrictions meant that only one person could deliver donations, which wasn’t sustainable financially, logistically and environmentally.

This is where Cycling Scotland stepped in...

A team of volunteers are making use of the charity’s e-cargo bikes to pick-up donations from Simon Community’s warehouse and retailer donors and then deliver vital supplies to a range of temporary accommodations supporting refugees, people seeking asylum, UK and EU nationals.

In April alone, the team delivered food, toiletries, clothing and personal protective equipment to people in need, cycling over 250 miles, replacing journeys that would have been done by van with pedal power.

"The volunteers have played a huge part"

Julie Alleyn, Volunteer Manager in Glasgow said, “Our operations have had to be significantly modified for the duration of this public health emergency. This has meant us coming up with new ways to deliver vital services to our service users. The volunteers from Cycling Scotland have played a huge part in this - they have turned up every day and cycled miles to make sure we can get supplies of PPE, food, etc. delivered around the city of Glasgow, and food donations picked up and delivered in Edinburgh.

We genuinely couldn’t deliver the services we do without the help of volunteers, especially during this time. Our Volunteer Service has been suspended temporarily so we are very grateful to organisations like Cycling Scotland who have stepped in to fill a gap. We are also delighted that we have our Cargo Bike out on the roads! We share a passion for cycling so it was a perfect fit for us and it’s truly an honour to meet and work with the team.”

Looking for the silver linings

Dan Gilmore, our Marketing Manager, who has been volunteering in Edinburgh said: “Like most people, when this pandemic started, I wanted to do something to help. The staff at Cycling Scotland are in a fortunate position where we have the option to volunteer, especially if it involves cycling. It has been a fantastic experience for me, I knew very little about Simon Community before I started volunteering, but I have be blown away by the kindness and commitment from all their staff and volunteers, doing great work to ensure those most in need are cared for.

I feel privileged that I have had the opportunity to get out and about at a time when the population has been confided to their homes, even if its only a few hours a week. The electric cargo bikes are amazing, they carry so much, and with the electric assist it is so easy to get up hills. I urge more people to give them a try, they are practical and great fun. And with the quieter roads it is such a pleasant way to get around.

If there can be any silver linings to the current situation I hope that how we treat homeless people and how we move around our cities are two lessons we can learn from the lockdown and take with us into the new normal”