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Be-spoke funding for bike club to extend support for young people

Selkirk School Bike club received £6000 funding from the Langhope Rig Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund to support the development and expansion of their programme for young people.

About the Organisation
Selkirk High School Parent Partnership (SHSPP) is a parent-led organisation established to promote collaboration between the school, its pupils, and their parents/carers. Its primary objectives are to represent the views of parents on the education provided by the school and matters affecting the students' education and welfare. Additionally, the partnership aims to assist in funding extracurricular school activities through self-fundraising, securing appropriate grants, and receiving donations.

The organisation benefits the approximately 500 young people enrolled at Selkirk High School, which is also the main catchment high school for pupils from the Langhope Rig Fund area.

About the School Bike Club
The School Bike Club project was initiated by SHSPP to address the effects of COVID on the mental health and well-being of high school pupils in the Selkirk High School catchment area, particularly those residing in rural Fund areas. The partnership recognised the need to develop safe spaces for students to exercise and socialise, aiming to alleviate issues such as depression, anxiety, social phobia, and fear of groups that had increased during the pandemic.

The School Bike Club project was designed to offer young people access to a relaxed and social setting where they could exercise, learn a new skill (cycling), challenge themselves physically and emotionally, and gain self-confidence. 

The club supports young people from the Selkirk, Ettrick & Yarrow, and Lilliesleaf, Ashkirk & Midlem areas, to meet on a Friday afternoon after school. Qualified volunteers from the school and local community, all British Cycling qualified Mountain Bike Leaders or Coaches or both, deliver guided off-road riding, coaching, bike maintenance, and trail-building activities open to all high school pupils.

The Project
The project aim was to introduce cycling to students who may not have had the opportunity before, as well as cater to those who already cycled. Its overall aim was to provide pupils from Selkirk High School - as well as those living in the Selkirk, Ettrick & Yarrow, and Lilliesleaf, Ashkirk & Midlem areas - with access to extracurricular activities that would otherwise be unavailable to them without traveling long distances. It was recognised that costs can be prohibitive for many families, especially in rural areas where access to sports is limited. 

The project also sought to introduce cycling to students who had not previously had the opportunity, fostering a love for the sport and encouraging them to enjoy and respect the natural environment.

The project was implemented in two phases, with Phase one funded by the Scottish Borders Council Neighbourhood Support Fund. Phase one took place in 2022, and it included purchasing bikes, helmets, and a package of British Cycling education to qualify new leaders and coaches, ensuring the club's sustainability and enabling led rides from the school.


It was at the phase two stage of the project, that the project approached the Langhope Rig Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund, to apply for support with continuation of the project costs towards purchasing a trailer capable of carrying 12 bikes.  

This would enable the club to ride at various locations across the Tweed Valley, and acquire a variety of trail-building tools for the club to start building its own trails in the local area.

The overall project cost was £19,920.  

A community panel, composed of people who live, work, or volunteer in the three communities, makes recommendations on grant awards and the Panel agreed to award £6,006 towards the overall project costs.

Impact of the Project
The School Bike Club project has had a transformational impact on the well-being and behaviour of many young people involved. Enabling access to the outdoors and physical exercise through cycling which has improved their well-being, and performance in school.

Bike clubThe project has also allowed students to experience the Tweed Valley and encouraged them to enjoy and respect the natural environment.

Additionally, the club has provided a positive outlet for young people with observed improvements in their conduct when engaged in outdoor activities and physical challenges. The project also led to the young people taking pride in the bikes and equipment, actively engaging in their bike maintenance and respecting the resources available to them.


Learning from the Project
The project's success has inspired the school to explore ways to incorporate mountain biking into the curriculum, further integrating the sport and its benefits into the educational experience. Additionally, a teacher is working towards becoming a qualified British Cycling Level two Mountain Bike Leader, which will provide more flexibility in using the club's facilities both inside and outside the curriculum.

The provision of funding also allows others to continue to build capacity within their own organisation.  One of the key lessons learned from the project was the importance of considering all necessary expenses, even the small ones, during the planning stage. The project team initially focused on the larger capital items, such as bikes and equipment, but overlooked the need for ramps, water bottles, and cleaning supplies. While they could reallocate funds to cover these unexpected expenses, they acknowledged that this was a good learning opportunity.  

Overall, the School Bike Club project has demonstrated the positive impact of providing outdoor activities and physical exercise opportunities for young people, particularly in addressing mental health challenges and behavioural concerns.  

It has provided 20 pupils from the Fund area access to opportunities which they would not have experienced without a contribution from the Fund, including accessing world class mountain biking trails and gaining confidence to try to new experiences.  Finally the project  aligned with the funds aims to improve local transport infrastructure, ensure adequate access to services and encourage community activity and promote community spirit.  

A representative from the Bike Club said:

Financial support from the Langhope Rig wind farm fund has transformed the ability of the bike club to provide a much wider range of experiences for Selkirk High School pupils by enabling access to trail centres across the Tweed Valley.  This group of young riders has very much enjoyed accessing the new trails recently installed at Glentress, and their riding skills and confidence have developed enormously as a result.