Wheels for Wellbeing is continuing to help the Lewisham Irish Centre and Good Hope Café deliver hot, nutritious meals to vulnerable and isolated people across the borough. We’re now looking to recruit more volunteers to assist us, so if you’re a confident cyclist and available on Wednesdays, please reach out to us via email (info@wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk) to learn more and sign up!

Right now, it can be easy to focus on our troubles and forget that some – especially those who are shielding – are facing more hardship than others. In light of this, it’s been a real pleasure being able to assist the Lewisham Irish Centre and Good Hope Café in collecting delicious meals and delivering them, by bicycle (in true Wheels for Wellbeing style!), to residents dotted across Lewisham.

There’s something extra special about the project involving pedal power, which is why we’ve been in touch with volunteers Anna (pictured below) and Jane to find out more:

When did you start volunteering for the Wednesday food delivery service in Lewisham?


Anna:

“My first delivery was in mid-July. I was greeted incredibly warmly by all, and it was clear right from the start that it was going to be a really lovely volunteer scheme to be a part of.”

Jane:

“I’ve been delivering the meals since the service started, so nearly 6 months now. I was a regular volunteer with Wheels for Wellbeing [before the pandemic] and had that time free, as sadly we had to stop running our cycling sessions in Lewisham.”

What has it been like volunteering and serving those who have been most affected by the pandemic?

Anna:

“It’s been a real delight! The whole team I’m working with are very friendly, supportive and thoughtful, and I really feel like I’m helping out in some way in these very strange and unsettling times. I strongly believe that being an active part of the local community is where the goodness can be found in 2020.

I only have a couple of deliveries, but both women I deliver to are so lovely and feel like friends now. I look forward to seeing them, and it’s great to have a check in and catch up with each other – I feel like they are supporting us as much as we are supporting them in many ways.  It’s great to be greeted by a huge smile and gratitude each time I knock on their door; it’s the highlight of my week to spend time chatting with people I would never have met, had I not found out about the project. 

I know that both of the women I deliver to are concerned that there is a long winter approaching. They have both quietly voiced their concerns that the scheme may not be able to continue, even though there seems to be no end to COVID in the near future…here’s to hoping we can keep supporting each other for as long as possible!”

Jane:  

“It’s been good for my mental health; I’ve been luckier than most as I’m a bike mechanic with Lewisham Cyclists, so could carry on working and fixing bikes for key workers. However, without that work and the weekly deliveries it would have been so difficult to stay motivated. As I’m usually alone when fixing bikes, the weekly deliveries have kept me in touch with people – something that’s been really important. It’s helped me deal with the very debilitating sense of powerlessness that the pandemic has dumped on us, especially during lockdown.”

What does a typical Wednesday look like for you at the moment?

Anna:

“As I work in theatre, all my work stopped dead in its tracks back in March, so Wednesdays are centred around the lunchtime deliveries!

If you’re looking to help out in the local community, then I can’t recommend getting involved [in this project] enough, surrounded by and supporting friendly people. One of the many joys of this project is working in the fresh air, and at the same time a dose of exercise come rain or shine – this scheme is great for our mental as well as physical health, and in 2020 we all need a bit of that!”

Jane:

“I get the cargo bike ready on a Wednesday morning. Sometimes I have another job in the morning, so following that I head out to Catford (at around midday). Once I arrive, it’s great to meet up with all the other riders for a brief socially distanced bit of banter and a general catch up! Following this, I load up the trike with the meals and set off. My deliveries are spread quite widely across the Borough, as I’ve got an e-assist cargo trike that can carry a lot.

I make sure take a bit of time to chat with the folk I’m delivering to. They’re a lovely bunch of people and there have been several occasions over the last few weeks when I’ve been in a bit of a low mood, but they’ve always managed to lift me out of it! I’ve really enjoyed the deliveries – the project has probably helped me as much as I’ve helped the recipients (it’s great that we do it all on bikes, too).”

“The project itself has made such a difference to the recipients, many of whom are in their late 70s and 80s. It’s provided a weekly hot nutritious meals, as well as friendship and support.”

Kathleen, Manager at Lewisham Irish Centre

We’d like to give our thanks to each and everyone one of our volunteers – without you, it wouldn’t be possible! If you’ve been inspired by this article and would like to join our team of Wednesday volunteer cyclists, then you can do so by emailing info@wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk.

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