Take a ride on the Buckshaw Village Rickshaws bringing old and young together and transforming local life

In 2019, long before the Covid-19 pandemic swept the globe and imposed lockdowns from Preston to Pyongyang, Andrew Kesiak was concerned about social isolation, community exclusion, and loneliness in his local area of Buckshaw Village. He took one look and decided to do something about it.
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In June of that year, he launched Buckshaw Village Rickshaws, a community project and partnership between the Chorley and Leyland Methodist Circuit and Buckshaw Village Church aimed at sourcing rickshaws for elderly local residents. Andrew’s hope was that the rickshaws tackle isolation and build intergenerational bridges.

Then the pandemic stopped everything. The very thing which BV Rickshaws was designed to halt - social isolation - became the norm for the entire country. But, as time went on and as social distancing was relaxed, the project chugged into life once more. And now it’s back with a bang.

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“When I started my job, I was tasked with improving the relationship between the local church and Buckshaw Diamond Village, which is a complex of three care facilities,” says Andrew, Buckshaw Village Community Church’s pioneer ministry enabler. “We wanted to engage with what was basically a whole other congregation of people living there.

Buckshaw Village RickshawsBuckshaw Village Rickshaws
Buckshaw Village Rickshaws

“As a musician, I started with music therapy sessions, but I wanted to create something more tangible, original, and crazy,” adds Andrew. “To think outside the box. That’s how we came to the rickshaws - they ticked all the boxes because they helped get elderly people out experiencing something outside their four walls, they helped make them part of the community, and they allowed them to feel the wind in their hair again.”

Julie Stringfellow, Buckshaw Retirement Village’s Lodge Manager, thinks the Rickshaws are a fantastic concept. “The idea with the rickshaws is not to go a long route, but to take in the moment at an easy pace, to notice the surroundings such as nature and activities, and perhaps even stop and get an ice-cream,” she says. “It’s about mental, emotional, and social stimulation.”

Having recently secured funds for two new rickshaws - two- or three-wheeled passenger carts pulled along by a driver - which were delivered a few weeks ago, BV Rickshaws is now gearing up for an official second launch event to showcase their new vehicles and explain the benefits of the project to The Lodge’s residents, who have dementia-related illnesses and who require help with nursing or personal care.

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Taking place on April 21 at 2pm at The Grange, the event will re-announce BV Rickshaws, extolling the virtues of giving residents more stimulating activities around the Chorley and Leyland areas, building stronger communities, providing opportunities for people as volunteer cyclists, and giving more elderly people the chance to feel the joys of cycling again and the freedom of being out and about. Sir Lindsay Hoyle will also be in attendance.

Andrew Kesiak, founder of Buckshaw Village RickshawsAndrew Kesiak, founder of Buckshaw Village Rickshaws
Andrew Kesiak, founder of Buckshaw Village Rickshaws

“There are a lot of young families in Buckshaw Village, so BV Rickshaws also allows us to build intergenerational bridges whilst offering volunteers the opportunity to keep fit,” explains Andrew. “The rickshaws are accessible to everybody too - they’re eye-catching and have really captured people’s imaginations. It was about making a difference for the community.

“There has been plenty of local interest so far and, since we started in 2019, the response has been phenomenal,” he adds. “Everyone’s very excited.”