Ibe used to cycle with his father when he was a child, and he visited lots of places that many other people from the L8 area of Liverpool perhaps didn’t get a chance to see. Once he became a father himself, he wanted to share those same memories from his childhood with his children. Unfortunately, lots of barriers seemed to stand in their way, and after going through his own ‘bad patch’, he realised that there needed to be better access and support for the diverse communities of L8 to empower them to have the skills, the wheels and the confidence to get out there and ride their bikes.
After attending the Active Citizens project run by L8 A Better Place in the Kuumba Imani Centre, and using his own knowledge of previously being a cycle instructor, the idea for Cycle for Life came into its own in. The pandemic was a catalyst as Ibe started to help people with access to bikes and then ran repair workshops in the community. The business was then fully incorporated in 2021.
The organisation aims to remove the barriers to taking up cycling and trains often underrepresented groups from the L8 area to instruct cycling sessions and to carry out basic bike maintenance.
Ibe caught the eye of BBC TV producers and featured in a 30-minute primetime BBC One episode of We Are England, that highlighted his incredible work with communities from Toxteth, including supporting refugees and encouraging women from ethnically diverse backgrounds to take up cycling.
After three years of success and progression, and with huge organisations like the NHS knocking on his door to collaborate, Ibe has now enrolled with Liverpool Business School to build upon his skills and to study on the MBA Business Scale Up programme.
“Coming on to the scale up programme it really made sense. I hadn’t been in education for a long period of time. I’d had some bad memories of education. I would never have come here, but the fact that people from LJMU came down to the Kuumba Imani Centre in the black community, it kind of eased some of my concerns and was a good platform to enable me to make that step along the bridge of academia. I’m told that I’m not just getting through, but that my work is of a high standard.”
– Ibe Hayter
Having enrolled on his course in September 2022, Ibe acknowledges that while it is a massive time commitment to undertake his MBA, that the practical skills he learns every week can almost immediately be implemented into the business.
He has access to professionals with a range of expertise across Liverpool Business School who he says have a personal interest in the success of those that they teach.
Not only is Ibe learning, but his team are also able to use the LJMU Business Clinic space and are being supported to undertake short CPD courses on offer at the university that will also enhance the long-term growth of Cycle for Life.
“I’m really trying to take advantage of all the opportunities at LJMU and I think people like me being here, to all those other people that grew up with me, that’s the biggest statement that I can give to them, that education can be for you and education has changed in this city.
“Hopefully other organisations will see the opportunities that are available so that they can invest within their own staff teams and not have this inferiority complex that we have, to look externally for support, but that we can do these things for ourselves. Which again for the L8 community builds capacity within the area. Rather than always looking outside, people are going to start coming to us for support, which is a big change.”
Cycle for Life reports that for every pound spent, there was a £35 return on that investment and since their inception in 2020 they have reached around 3,000 people directly, and many, many more indirectly across the Liverpool City Region and beyond.