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WHEELS OF CHANGE

24 Jun 2006

Cycling and support sessions? It might seem like a peculiar package but a South Wales charity working with socially excluded and homeless people has put its faith in a new initiative.

Llamau is changing the way it does business in the Vale of Glamorgan. A Community Chest grant from the Sports Council for Wales has allowed the charity to purchase bicycles for both staff and service users; adding an active element to its already holistic support service.

Helping individuals get back on track, the majority of service users are homeless young people aged 16-21, care leavers, young offenders and those at risk of offending. As part of the service, Llamau provides the initial ‘safe’ environment within which users can start to address some of the issues which have caused them to become homeless and develop the essential skills needed for a sustainable future.

And it’s a future they hope will be a healthier one. Service users are being taken away from their surroundings – which they often feel isolated in – and cycling with Llamau staff for support sessions in locations such as Cosmeston Lakes and Porthkerry Country Park. Not only building a better rapport between staff and users, the new experience is helping to raise self esteem and build confidence and improve the health of the young care leavers.

The initiative is also making a difference to the fitness levels of Llamau staff. Taking them away from their sedentary working day, the bike has replaced the car for home visits.

The outcome of the project will be measured by support staff logging the development of individuals and detailing how the project is helping their personal development.

Llamau hopes to see the initiative rolled out to the other areas they work in, including Cardiff, Caerphilly, Bridgend and Newport.