A flagship cycling project for disabled people in Croydon is under threat due to lack of funding, despite its popularity.
Cycling for All is based at Croydon Sports Arena in South Norwood and has been running as a voluntary project since 2001.
The project, which is the only one of its kind in the area, was taken over by newly established charity Wheels for Wellbeing in 2007, because it had grown so large.
It brings together disabled people, paid workers and volunteers who enjoy cycling on the group's three and four-wheeled cycles at twice-weekly, one hour sessions. It has been recognised by London Sports Forum for Disabled People and Pro-Active South London as a best-practice example of encouraging disabled people to exercise.
Justin Webb, marketing manager for Pro-Active South London, said: "The project is fantastic and provides important exercise opportunities for disabled people. It would be a real shame for the community to lose a growing project."
He pointed out that the project helped a lot of disabled people meet the Government's target of exercising five times a week.
Last year 700 people, including more than 340 with disabilities, attended the sessions but, unless funding can be found, it is now facing closure.
Janet Paske, manager of Wheels for Wellbeing, said: "The project gives many disabled people a sense of freedom and independence, which is missing from other parts of their lives and which others take for granted."
One member, Kate, 25, from Greenwich, has learning difficulties and regularly attends the project. She said: "I first went to Cycling for All last September where I was taught to steer and brake. I can now ride a bicycle and would like to cycle in the Special Olympics."
Navlett, mother of Dwayne,15, from Southwark, who has a physical impairment, added: "When Dwayne was younger I used to be able to take him to the park with his cousins but now that he is larger I can't do that any more. When he attended Cycling for All his face lit up as he enjoyed it so much."
Janet is keen to ensure the project continues to help members such as Kate and Dwayne, but said: "Unfortunately we are a small organisation and we need more help."
She said the group needed £40,000 to stay open this year and that so far it had received £5,000 from the Peter Harrison Foundation which supports charities and voluntary projects.
She added: "Each of the sessions we run costs £500 and without help from other supporters the project will be lost."
So far she has submitted grant applications to three charitable trusts. She is also encouraging individual members to fundraise and has set up a justgiving website to help them.
Cycling for All, is run by Wheels for Wellbeing, which promotes cycling for disabled people to cycle in London. It runs a cycle hire service, cycle sessions for children in special schools and cycling in the park alongside the project.
To make a donation please visit www.justgiving.com/wheelsforwellbeing
For further information visit www.wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk or telephone 020 7346 8482.
Community Newswire, 8th of April 2009