We are delighted to have recruited two wonderful new Campaigns and Policy Officers to join our Campaigns and Policy team! Kate and Ben joined WfW this month as experienced Disabled cyclists and campaigners.
Kate, who lives in Derby with her husband and four children says, “I ride an e-tandem that’s covered in unicorns for most of my regular journeys – the only trouble is, it’s so awesome that other family members regularly want to borrow it! I’m working on designs for a wheelchair transport mount on its pannier rack. My interim wheelchair transport method is somewhat unsophisticated, involving a cake tin as a brace plus various kayak straps.”
Ben, like Kate, rides a standard two-wheeler and has also been innovating methods of transporting his mobility aids: “I was a wheelchair-user before I learned to cycle in my late twenties. I had imagined that my joint pain would mean I wouldn’t be able to use a normal cycle, but experience has proven otherwise – I think the fact that it isn’t weight-bearing is the key. I sometimes refer to a conventional cycle as an ‘inline wheelchair’, although I also use my inline wheelchair to tow a trailer in which I have my conventional wheelchair.”
Kate and Ben both bring a wealth of campaigning experience, Kate has been campaigning locally for active travel and accessibility improvements for many years and her work has been recognised by Cycling UK who have listed her as one of their 100 Women in Cycling.
Ben describes himself as, “By personality and inclination I’m a campaigner and political, so I was involved in disability rights campaigning right from when I started using a wheelchair in the early 1990s – I wasn’t quite involved early enough to join the Disabled People’s Direct Action Network, DAN, but I admired them at the time, and have been very aware how much since has built on their work. Similarly, I joined cycle campaigns, including critical mass rides, soon after learning to cycle in the 1990s.”
When not working for WfW Ben is an elected councillor where he has “spent many hours responding to planning applications, pointing out that cycle racks don’t make provision for non-standard cycles, or that the ban on cycling in the town centre discriminates against those of us who use our cycle as a mobility aid.”
Kate’s background is in secondary science teaching, including working with home educated children and adults. She has also spent time working with volunteering and statutory organisations over the last couple of decades. She says, “I love learning new things, putting information together and helping other people to learn. I also enjoy making things, gardening, playing music and board games – my current favourite is Wingspan, because it’s just so pretty!”
Kate and Ben have both landed on their wheels in WfW, Kate told us that, “I’m completely excited to have started work this month as a Campaigns and Policy Officer with Wheels for Wellbeing. It’s a real privilege to be a part of this fantastic organisation which is helping to make so many positive changes for everyone in the UK.”
Ben, who has recently gone car-free, is looking forward to cycling more, despite the barriers that Disabled cyclists encounter. “The biggest obstacle to me cycling for everyday journeys is having to get off my ‘inline wheelchair’ and lock it up when I still need wheels under me, while the biggest obstacle to getting out cycling for leisure is the amount of time I spend being a councillor and campaigning!”
We have no doubts that Kate and Ben will be making a big impact in their new roles and we are delighted to have them on board. If you have any campaigning or policy issues that you would like to contact them about you can drop them an email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org