Wheely Tots is a London based micro charity randomly selected as the winner of the whatCharity prize draw of £300 M&S gift vouchers. We interviewed Rhiannon Evans, Volunteering Coordinator at Wheely Tots to learn more about the charity and the impact they make. Additional details about the charity and how you can support their fantastic work can be found on their whatCharity.com profile.
What does your charity do?
Wheely Tots is a registered charity that believes all children should have the opportunity to learn to be healthy, confident and resilient. We make this possible by providing access to cycling equipment and facilities via inclusive, friendly and rewarding family oriented events and sessions. We specialise in parent & toddler balance bike sessions from age 14 months upwards and provide tools, support and help for the whole family. We also offer cycling related activities such as bike servicing and cycle training, workshops and use of our cargo bike.
Why are cycling skills important
Wheely Tots uses cycling to bring people together. Our parent & toddler balance bike sessions are held in local parks and open to all which means we attract a diverse range of families. A barrier to cycling for many is lack of bike ownership, we address this by providing access to our pool of bikes which families can borrow. Many families have a ‘fear’ of cycling in London, less than 3% of parents involved with Wheely Tots have received any previous cycle training; this is often due to lack of time and the fact that they are caring for their children. We offer cycling and route planning sessions for families to help build their confidence. Parents regularly come to Wheely Tots drop in sessions with very basic bike maintenance problems; by providing basic bike maintenance sessions we provide the skills and knowledge to deal with these.
Who many people you reach annually and what is the impact of your work?
In 2017-18 we reached 326 families, benefited from 176 volunteer hours and made 48 bikes safe and roadworthy. This year we have been recognised by the Mayor of London and been awarded funding for our innovative “Family Buddy Up Project” which will be formally launched with partners in January 2019, but sessions are already underway! Essentially we set a cycling related problem or challenge for 2 different families (the family buddies) to solve and we gently explore improving social inclusion in very diverse parts of North London.
How do you finance your activities and what kind of support you are looking for?
All our activities are run on a suggested donation / pay as you feel basis and free places are always available. We have received grant funding to support our activities from a number of organisations including Transport for London via Cycling Grants London, The Mayor Of London and recently the School of Social Entrepreneurs as well as very small grants from London Boroughs of Hackney and Haringey. We also receive support in kind from organisations like Berkeley Homes and the Manor House Development Trust as well as from volunteers. Most recently some lovely corporate volunteers from Sage Foundation helped us fit out our pop up family showroom at the Castle Climbing Centre in North London.
As a small organisation we value volunteer support alongside our session leaders as well as donations of bikes for our pool. We are always keen to hear from interested volunteers and love hosting teams of corporate volunteers as well as offering employee workshops as part of corporate health and well being commitments to staff.
How will you spend the gift voucher?
As a small charity we are hugely excited to win the £300. This will allow us to have a proper Christmas party to celebrate our achievements in 2018 and look forward to what 2019 has in store.