British Cycling’s HSBC UK Breeze programme has been highlighted as a “fantastic” example of a participation initiative after being featured in a major new report which emphasises the economic, health and social value of outdoor recreation.
The Sport and Recreation Alliance’s Reconomics Plus report was launched last Friday, and includes case studies linking to one or more of the Government’s five key outcomes from the ‘Sporting Future’ strategy; the economic, social, individual and physical and mental health benefits of being active outdoors.
Breeze Champions helped to launch the report in Macclesfield alongside David Rutley MP, who said:
“The Breeze case study is fantastic. So many people want to participate in cycling at a recreational level, and this programme gets more women involved through easily accessible events, run by volunteers, which are such a great way forward.
“It’s absolutely vital. When you look at some of the issues that we’re facing now in terms of physical inactivity and childhood obesity, this is the sort of activity that’s going to help people overcome those physical health challenges. It’s absolutely pivotal, it’s exciting and it’s fun.”
The report, produced in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, calculates that outdoor exercise delivers an estimated £2.2 billion of health benefits to adults in England each year. The original Reconomics report, published in 2014, has helped to trigger several major changes to the policy context surrounding outdoor recreation in England.
Reconomics Plus features statistics, facts and a range of case studies which bring the many benefits of outdoor recreation to life. As British Cycling’s largest ever participation programme for women, Breeze has enjoyed great success since being formed in 2011 – it has so far attracted over 130,000 participants and has made a £3.3m health impact*.
The initiative allows women the chance to either discover or re-discover a love of cycling by taking part in local, sociable and fun guided rides, all led by volunteer Breeze Champions.
Helen Brewis, a recently-qualified champion who attended Friday’s launch, explains:
“Breeze is so important because it gets people out and exercising in a fun and social way, so as well as getting the physical health benefits, we get a lot of social health benefits as well, which are so good for our mental health.
“Having recently qualified, I feel empowered in taking out a group of ladies out on the road. Before qualifying, I met a number of champions who were absolutely inspirational, and the stories about what they’d achieved and how they’d got ladies engaged in cycling really took me aback.
“I also met a lot of women close to where I live who were keen to get involved in cycling, but were unsure about getting out on the roads – there were clearly people locally who needed this, and that drove me on, really.”
David Bourque, director of recreation and partnerships at British Cycling, added:
“This report highlights just how important initiatives such as Breeze are. Working in partnership with HSBC UK, local authorities and Sport England, we aim to help thousands more women get fit and healthy with the support of our amazing Breeze champion volunteers.”
To find out more about Breeze and our aim to help thousands more women feel confident and comfortable about going on a bike ride, visit breezebikerides.com.
*Figures calculated using the World Health Organisation’s Health Economic Assessment Tool