Pedalling towards empowerment and inclusivity
Hop On, a pioneering British Pakistani female-led non-profit organisation, is challenging gender norms and fostering empowerment in South Asian communities through its weekly cycling groups in Bradford, England. The organisation’s participation in Impact Hub Bradford’s programmes has been instrumental in magnifying Hop On’s impact by offering valuable support and resources to address the unique challenges faced by the community.
In many South Asian communities, cycling is often perceived as a male-dominated sport. However, a remarkable initiative called Hop On is challenging this norm by running weekly cycling groups in Bradford, England, to create a safe and supportive social environment for women and children.
Hop On is a British Pakistani female-led non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting women and children from underserved communities, encouraging them to push their limits and improve their overall well-being. Their core mission revolves around teaching women and children to ride a bike, fostering confidence, and enhancing physical and behavioural well-being. By breaking down barriers and providing a supportive space, they empower individuals to tackle challenges in various aspects of their lives, including mental and physical well-being, employment, and community relationships.
Operating in Lister Park, Bradford, one of the most deprived areas in England, Hop On addresses practical barriers to cycling. The organisation provides bikes and storage facilities in the park, helping those who cannot afford or store their own bikes. This inclusive approach extends to religious considerations, with Hop On offering a comfortable space for women to cycle in religious clothing such as hijabs, niqabs, or jubbahs.
As a participant in one of Impact Hub Bradford’s programmes, the organisation has gained valuable support and resources to enhance its impact. Impact Hub Bradford’s initiatives have played a pivotal role in strengthening Hop On’s ability to address the unique challenges faced by the community.
While cycling is the key platform used to bring people together, Hop On emphasises that their work is not just about the bike – it’s about the journey. The sessions, led by qualified coaches trained in linguistics, focus on empowerment, strength-building, and equipping participants with valuable life skills. The organisation collaborates with local mental health organisations to provide additional support to their clients, recognising the importance of addressing holistic well-being.
The women and children benefiting from Hop On’s programmes are primarily South Asian, reflecting the demographics of the local community. Notably, 72% of the population in their area is Asian/Asian British, with 60% being of Pakistani ethnicity and 75% identifying as Muslim. This aligns with research indicating that Muslim women face a triple penalty in the employment market – based on gender, race, and religion.
The community they serve faces significant challenges, including high levels of health inequalities, unemployment, and crime. COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted the area, further highlighting the need for initiatives like Hop On.
Hop On’s efforts come at a crucial time when conversations around mental and physical health, the climate crisis, and the need for alternative transportation solutions are gaining prominence. By offering cycling as a means to overcome challenges and build independence, Hop On is not just a cycling trainer but a catalyst for positive change in Bradford. They are not just teaching women and children to ride bikes; it’s empowering them to overcome barriers, fostering inclusivity, and building a community that extends far beyond the pedals.
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