Carers get on their bikes to provide support to Headington community

Jake Starkey - Thursday, July 27th, 2023

Carers looking after people in their own homes in Headington have ditched cars in favour of bikes and walking to beat the current traffic challenges. 

BelleVie employs over 40 people in Oxfordshire and provides vital support to people in their own homes. From helping around the home to companionship and care, BelleVie’s Wellbeing Support Workers help older people to thrive at home.  

However, the challenges of traffic in Headington and difficulty finding car parking meant it was too complicated for BelleVie to provide a service there. The organisation was also reliant on staff having access to a car. 

Now a team has been set up in Headington which only cycles or walks to the people they support, making them the first team in the organisation to do so. Not only is it quick and easy for staff to get around but it also helps widen recruitment to people who’ve not previously considered a career in care due to lack of transport. 

Trudie Fell, Co-founder of BelleVie and CEO, said:

“We have a team in Oxford, but we were having to say no to families needing support in Headington because of the traffic and parking challenges. At the same time, we were receiving job applications from people who’d make amazing Wellbeing Support Workers, but they didn’t drive or have access to a car. 

“We came up with the idea of our first walking/cycling team in Headington and we haven’t looked back. We’ve teamed up with Oxford based local cycling company, Bainton Bikes, to provide electric bikes to our team. It’s not only an efficient way to get around, but there are environmental benefits too. 

“It means our team isn’t caught up in the stress of traffic jams and parking. They can spend the time they need caring for the people we support, plus we can recruit the right people for the job without the need for transport holding them back.”

As well as the convenience and time saved by cycling or walking between appointments, it’s helping to improve the wellbeing of BelleVie’s staff too. 

Sophie joined BelleVie after a career in recruitment followed by two years in a care home as an activities coordinator. Sophie said:

“I’m part of the walking/ cycling team in Headington. As I live and work in the area, I’m part of the community which I believe really helps those I support. More than this, the families know I’m always only a short cycle or walk away. 

“It’s incredibly rewarding to enable people to stay in their homes, where memories ooze out of the walls, scream from the bookshelves and creep up through the floorboards. I’ve seen first-hand how much of a difference one human could make to a persons’ day. It can be sitting down with them to have a natter, help with a puzzle, go for a walk around the garden, recite a favourite poem or just sit and watch the world go by. To be part of the day-to-day life of people who want to keep their independence, as much as possible, is just beautiful.”

The Headington team self-manage themselves, meaning they work together to share ideas about how best to support the people in their care. Each team member works alongside the individuals they care for and their families, bringing their own skills and interests to enrich that person’s life. 

BelleVie recently won four awards at the 2023 Home Care Awards, which celebrate the teams that are making a difference and providing expert support. The awards included most outstanding home care provider, best for team support expertise, innovative technology expertise and best palliative/end of life care. 

Currently, more staff are needed in Oxfordshire to meet demand. You can view more of our exciting roles here.