So we are all taking our first steps into 2024. Hopefully you are enjoying that fresh new year feeling of optimism and motivation after recharging your batteries and having a good break.
Here at Brightwayz we’re excited about the year ahead but we also feel it’s important to take a look back at the year just gone and reflect on the journey behind us. So let’s wind back the clock and look at a few stand-out memories…
Here at Brightwayz social enterprise, alongside our main role of supporting sustainable travel schemes we head up the local social enterprise support network - North Northants Social Enterprise network (NNSE).
January was a particularly busy month for us with this as we secured funding for and organised digital marketing and PR training for local social enterprises. Our two Youth Social Enterprise Ambassadors completed the collection of social enterprise Showcase feature videos which can be seen here. This was the culmination of our Growth For Good project to help local social enterprises including our own to achieve their potential.
We managed to get out and about around the country in February. Alison joined meet ups with fellow Modeshift members from the south west in Gloucester and from the Midlands in Leicester.
It’s always great to find out what new ideas and initiatives are emerging in the world of active travel and share ideas. We also love meeting up with so many of our customers from across different local authorities and other organisations.
Corby (aka ‘mini Scotland’) is a nearby town which grew up around the steel industry in the 20th century and attracted many workers from Scotland. Pop aficionados from the 1980s may recall the ‘Steeltown’ album by Celtic rock band Big Country which was about Corby.
Here at Brightwayz in February and March we enjoyed visiting local schools in Corby, doing other community engagement and taking part in route assessments as part of the project to develop a Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) for the town.
March was also a big month for one of the Kettering schools we work with - Kettering Buccleuch Academy as they were named Secondary School of the Region for Midlands and East England at the Modeshift School Travel Awards.
Helping businesses and organisations to promote and enable sustainable transport is what the Modeshift for Business conference is about. We enjoyed meeting up with other like-minded sustainable travel professionals for this annual event. Our Brightwayz stall hopefully inspired many of the delegates with our range of sustainable travel engagement products.
May was a busy month for us as our staff joined the national Walk This May challenge. Plenty more walking was done too as we celebrated the Modeshift Gold STARS accreditation of Grange Primary Academy, a local school we support with active travel.
The King’s coronation was a cause for celebration and prompted lots of street parties - a chance to highlight how streets are for people not just vehicles! Our ‘road open for Coronation’ signs supported this point and our special edition Coronation reflectors were a fun, practical souvenir for children for the event.
June was a very ‘green’ month - we took part in the national ‘big Green Week’ by organising special community rides and taking our smoothie bike along for some pedalling followed by refreshments! Our local hospital opened their new cycle facilities; colourful racks, a shelter, public pump and mending station so we brought out the bunting and organised a launch event to celebrate and promote it. Keeping up with other green travel professionals across the south and east of England, Andrea headed to London for the regional meet up for Modeshift too.
Although July was a quieter month for us in terms of events, we were very busy beavering away on our new website which was soft launched this month. This has now brought together our Brightwayz and Brightkidz websites into one with a much improved, easier to use e-shop. Have you browsed our product range yet?
We love summer! And we had wonderful weather for one of our favourite events - our smoothie bike and active travel information stand at the local North Park, Kettering summer fun day. We helped over 200 children to pedal their own smoothies whilst offering a free cycle service to anyone who had brought their own bike along. This was part of our cycling UK Big Bike Revival activities which we regularly run supported by Cycling UK.
We also launched our Cycle-Re-Cycle project - and handed over the first bikes to our local social prescriber. By refurbishing donated bikes and getting them back into the community to those most in need we are not just giving the bikes a new lease of life but giving people opportunities to be able to travel freely and independently, access services and boost their mental health when they most need it.
What a wonderful end to the summer holidays - the Love Food event at Wicksteed Park!!! The sun shone (very, very much) and the crowds came. We had prize position in the middle of the event with our smoothie stall, free cycle service offering and active travel information. Around 180 smoothies were pedalled by local children (and a few adults who wanted a go too). Our smoothie bike isn’t just about creating a lovely drink from fruit juice and frozen fruit - it’s a great chance to start a conversation about cycling; ask children if they like cycling, ask parents too. And maybe inspire some to get the bikes out of the shed once they get home.
September is a big month for sustainable travel as it includes Travelwise Week and Car Free Day on 22 September every year. We celebrated by organising the annual ‘Let’s Go Green’ eco and eco travel event at Rushden Lakes a popular local retail and leisure venue. We joined forces with our local council officer Lucy to share information and gain views on the plans for a local Greenway to connect the site with local towns.
Our local Bikelife cycle confidence training project was launched with a mission to prioritise giving 100 local NHS or care sector staff the cycle skills and equipment to cycle for everyday journeys for work and leisure.
We were pleased to have Dez (one of our local volunteer ride leaders) join our staff team to support Bikelife and our other local active travel project work.
Our founder Alison Holland was named by Cycling UK as one of the ‘Top 100 Women in Cycling’ in early November. Under the ‘Industry mogul’ category the award recognises the projects to promote cycling in the community that Alison has led for Brightwayz.
The award announcement coincided with Alison, Jacqui and Donna (our Scotland-based Brightwayz team member) meeting up with sustainable travel friends old and new at the national Modeshift conference in York.
Meanwhile Andrea and Lucy took charge and had lots of fun at our ‘pedal the Christmas tree lights’ activity back here in Kettering for the local Christmas lights switch on event… part of our Get Down to Town project (more of that in a moment).
In December we achieved the first ever Modeshift STARS-accredited travel plan for a town centre!
Our Get Down to Town Kettering project which was launched in October was behind this - and is about promoting and enabling safe, active, sustainable travel choices to our local town centre. It has included outreach work too such as visits to local scout groups to help them gain their Cycling badges.
Our Brightwayz stall at Kettering Christmas markets rewarded local people travelling to the town on foot, by bike, scooting, by bus or mobility scooter. They could claim a free ‘Get Down to Town’ colourful shopper bag for having a car-free trip to town - just one of many initiatives in our Get Down to Town Kettering project.
Happy New Year to all our customers, partners, suppliers, supporters, people we support and ‘anyone else who knows us’ from all of us here at Brightwayz. Thank you for being part of our journey so far and we hope you’ll enjoy the 2024 journey with us too.
Here at Brightwayz social enterprise we love to provide information and tips to help you, your colleagues, friends and family travel in safe, active, sustainable ways for everyday journeys.
Our unique range of products is here to help support your active travel campaigns and 100% of profits from sales is ploughed back to support the work we do. Take a look at our range here and find something to help you inspire others to travel in good ways.