Street Cycles: Going the Extra Mile

UK’s first pedal-powered homeless outreach project

Simon Community Scotland is excited to launch a new initiative aimed at supporting people experiencing homelessness. Our Street Cycles project is an innovative way to provide life-changing support to vulnerable rough sleepers in Glasgow.

Why have we launched Street Cycles?

Every day our Street Team walks the city centre to look for and support rough sleepers. We are encountering growing numbers of vulnerable people on the streets further in the South and West of the city. They are often the most deeply excluded from homeless services and usually women who are attempting to seek ‘safer’ places to sleep. Our ability to cover these areas is inhibited by geography and staff resources. To address these challenges we are bringing in highly-trained volunteers to increase the scope of our cover and using bicycles to travel greater distance and respond more rapidly to those in need.

Extending the reach of the Street Team

Our Street Team is an essential part of our RSVP (Rough Sleepers and Vulnerable People) Service, providing presence on the street and support to people 365 days a year. Through our new Street Cycles initiative we are able to extend, strengthen and support the existing work of the Street Team. The project launched in September 2017 with an initial cohort of volunteers being inducted and trained to provide support.

Providing practical and emotional support

Our Street Cycles team travel in pairs on specially equipped bicycles, capable of carrying large quantities of life changing items, including food, clothing, first aid, sanitary products, needle exchange kits and sleeping bags. They undertake a mapping exercise where they seek out ‘skipper’ sites with a view to engaging and supporting people they find.

By mapping the city and offering basic supplies, our Street Cycles’ team can make vital connections with people. This helps us build contact and trust with those we support. More experienced and trained staff are then able to follow up with individuals and support people off the streets.

Help us go the extra mile!

We are currently piloting Street Cycles with a small team and will be launching a larger volunteer recruitment drive in the coming months. Visit our Volunteering page for more information.

Training and Support

Through training and support we ensure all our volunteers are equipped to interact with and support people they meet. Volunteers undergo basic counselling and intervention skills training, the Cycling Scotland ‘Cycle Patrol’ course as well as a cycling maintenance qualification.

Making a difference in Glasgow

Street Cycles has grown from our mission to transform homelessness response in the city. Glasgow has Scotland’s highest incidence of rough sleeping and homelessness. As an organisation we seek to provide innovative solutions, making Simon Community Scotland a city and country wide leader in direct intervention in the causes and effects of homelessness.

Funding and Support for Street Cycles

A wide range of individuals and organisations have been pivotal to the launching of this initiative. We are grateful to the ways in which they have made Street Cycles possible.

  • Funding from The Big Lottery Innovation Fund, Rangers Charity Foundation, Cycling Scotland and public donations
  • Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government and Housing who launched Street Cycles on 20 September 2017 at The Hub, our RSVP support and advice drop in on London Road
  • Organisations that have been helping us launch, including: Tandem Cycles Group, Carradice, Endura and The Bike Station.
  • Our volunteers!

Changing culture

Street Cycles project is helping us engage with new and more people. Additionally, it is continuing to enable a positive cycling culture amongst our staff, volunteers and the most excluded communities of Glasgow. Other cycling initiatives at the Simon Community include:

  • Partnering with the Bike Station with the ‘Build a Bike’ project with our service users
  • Achieving Cycling Scotland certification: We are delighted that all 14 of our residential services are certified ‘Cycle Friendly Employers’.