Good Causes

Bike loan scheme helps NHS staff deal with stress

The coronavirus has placed an enormous strain on NHS staff working at hospitals across the country. But nurses, doctors and other key workers at one hospital in East London have adopted a novel way of easing stress – borrowing a bike and taking a spin around the campus.

Nikki Tysoe, the NHS project manager who set up the bike scheme to help her colleagues at Goodmayes Hospital in the London Borough of Redbridge, said the seven bikes – a mixture of mountain bikes and women’s bikes – have proved to be excellent stress busters.

She said, “[Goodmayes Hospital] have a mental health in-patient unit which is really high stress at the moment. What we’ve found really successful is staff using the bikes when they’re really stressed – we call it ‘having a wobble’. The opportunity to take a bike, have a ride around the site and burn off some of that stress and energy is fantastic.”

Nikki gets emotional when asked why she set up the scheme. She said, “It’s about my love of the NHS and my colleagues and wanting to make their lives a little easier in some way. That might sound really cheesy. But these last few months I’ve seen them do such amazing work in very difficult circumstances.”

Nikki’s involvement in cycling is relatively recent. Eighteen months ago she and her husband set up a youth BMX club – The Redbridge Spitfires – after her sons, Joe, 11, and Louis, 9, tried the sport and loved it.

Setting up the club put Nikki in touch with Access Sport, a National Lottery-funded charity devoted to helping disadvantaged and marginalised young people get involved in sport. Access Sport provided her with support and advice on how to get the club going and how to build membership.

When the coronavirus lockdown began the BMX club had to suspend its meetings. Nikki asked Access Sport what she could do to help and the charity suggested setting up a scheme to enable NHS key workers borrow bikes.

Access Sport provided Nikki with seven bikes as well as helmets and bike locks. Now, thanks to you, staff at Goodmayes Hospital are using them to move between different parts of the hospital or simply to clear their head if they feel overwhelmed by being in the frontline of the health crisis.

Nikki said, “People tell us it’s refreshing them and calming them down. We’ve had some lovely weather recently and there are birds and other wildlife on the site so simply riding around is wonderful.”

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5th June 2020

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