There With You: Islington nurse’s bike-sharing initiative for NHS and key workers during Covid-19 pandemic

Lucy Wellings. Picture: Lucy Wellings

Lucy Wellings. Picture: Lucy Wellings - Credit: Archant

An Islington nurse has set up a bike-sharing initiative to help key workers and NHS staff travel safely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lucy Wellings, a paediatric nurse at UCLH who also worked on a Covid-19 ward for a month, co-founded Tour De Thanks after her own bicycle was stolen from Victoria Park in mid-March.

“We knew things were going to kick off,” said Lucy, “so I took the decision public transport was a ‘no go’ for me and I would only go by bike, I walked around the corner and my bike had been stolen.”

Lucy found her bicycle being flogged on Gumtree and, with the help of police, was able to get it back.

The experience convinced her to set up Tour De Thanks with her friend Charlie Sumner-Bedford – and they’ve since matched more than 100 key workers with bicycles.

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Lucy, who lives off Northchurch Road, added: “Since lockdown is easing we’re noticing more and more key workers and NHS workers are even more worried about using public transport and over-crowding, so we’ve had a lot more uptake. [...] Every NHS and essential worker on a bike is keeping the ‘R’ number below 1 because we’re the ones most likely to be getting infections.”

She asked Gazette readers to donate or lend bikes, or even give bits of spare bike parts, so they can help more people.

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Lucy added: “We have had a high number of Islington residents who have come forward to try and take part in the scheme, [including] community nurses and midwifes, so it would be great to get them kitted up as well.”

Lucy says her experiences on the Covid ward were mostly positive as she enjoyed comforting elderly patients who were scared, but added: “There have been times of anxiety, even for my house mates who have isolated for quite a while, so we made a deal where I changed outside the house, put my clothes into a bin liner and ran straight to the shower after a shift.”

Islington Council is in talks with TfL about making “pop-up” cycle lanes for key workers.

The government has released a £250million “emergency active travel fund” aimed at easing congestion on public transport as lockdown is lifted by encouraging people to walk and cycle.

Tweet Lucy via @TourDeThanks to donate a bicycle.

Click here for a directory of agencies helping people during the pandemic.

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