Published: 11th AUGUST 2023

Sustrans employees awarded with internationally recognised Churchill Fellowships

Lucy Atkinson and Kierson Wise have been selected for the Churchill Fellowship for each demonstrating passion, motivation and the determination to make a profound impact in the UK on subject areas close to their heart.

Two photos, one of a man sat smiling in a recumbent bicycle on a sunny day on the National Cycle Network and the other is a woman sat at a desk

Sustrans colleagues, Lucy Atkinson and Kierson Wise, have each been awarded a Churchill Fellowship which will enable them to learn more about subjects they are passionate about and to make positive change through their findings.

The pair were two of 141 people to be awarded a Fellowship out of 965 applicants.

The Sustrans employees were selected as they each showed the determination, motivation and energy to make a profound impact in their chosen area.

The Churchill Fellowship, which was set up as the living legacy of Sir Winston Churchill, encourages people to follow their passion for change through learning from the world and then bring that knowledge back to the UK.


Regenerating cities for systemically marginalised communities

Lucy, who is a Project Manager in Collaborative Design at Sustrans, will use her Fellowship to explore community-led approaches to regeneration in inner city areas.

The aim of her Fellowship is to identify alternative approaches to produce better results for existing communities, especially those which are systemically marginalised.

Lucy will be travelling to the USA for her learning, where she will visit coalitions of community organisers, local governments, institutions, funders and creatives.

She said: "I’m really looking forward to visiting community-led projects in cities in the US.

"On my trip, I will have the chance to see coalitions between communities, institutions, artists, local governments and private organisations.

"I will explore how some of these models could be applied in the UK, particularly in the context of regeneration projects in inner city areas.

"Putting communities in positions of leadership is vital to achieving better outcomes for local communities, especially those who are less often heard in the process of change."

Lucy said she is delighted to have been awarded a Fellowship and is looking forward to the challenge ahead. She added:

"The Resilient Communities and Economies panel was filled with inspirational people, and it’s exciting to have their vote of confidence.

"Developing the application was an enjoyable process in itself.

"From researching organisations doing pioneering work in the US to working out how to document a visit to community groups in a creative and engaging way.

"Now, I’m excited for the challenge.

"I'd like to thank Nephertiti Oboshie Shandorf, Artistic Director at Peckham Platform and Becca Shiel, Collaborative Design Manager at Sustrans for your support."

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Putting communities in positions of leadership is vital to achieving better outcomes for local communities, especially those who are less often heard in the process of change. Blockquote quotation marks
Lucy, Project Manager in Collaborative Design at Sustrans

Making the National Cycle Network more accessible 

Kierson, Programme Manager for Paths for Everyone, will use his Fellowship to learn more about how we can better utilise accessible sections of the National Cycle Network as a catalyst for encouraging more disabled people to experience cycling.

The idea is to identify and develop key locations on the Network that have the required facilities, as well as barrier-free, smooth surfaced, accessible paths, to serve as adaptive cycling hubs.

Kierson will be travelling to the USA and Canada in spring and summer in 2024 to visit world leading adaptive cycling centres, inclusive cycling programmes and state of the art cycle manufacturers.

He said: "I know from my own experience of a spinal cord injury, suffered 25 years ago this summer, just how much mobility and independence cycling offers.

"Getting about on foot is slow and a bit of a struggle for me, but on a bike, I can be fast and free.

"And there has been so much improvement in the range and quality of adaptive cycles recently, especially with new light-weight materials and electric assist.

"I want to give more disabled people the opportunity to experience these benefits and think that the National Cycle Network can play a key role.

"The prospect of planning a research trip to visit and learn from the best adaptive cycling hubs, accessible trail centres and manufacturers in the world is very exciting."

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I want to give more disabled people the opportunity to experience these benefits and think that the National Cycle Network can play a key role. Blockquote quotation marks
Kierson Wise, Programme Manager for Paths for Everyone

Kierson described the moment he found out his application was successful as one he'd "never forget".

He added: "I had put such a lot of time and effort into the application. Stage one applications start in September, stage two in February, and then either an online or an in-person interview early in May at a venue close to Westminster Abbey.

"I was very nervous for the interview - the panel included the amazing para-Olympian Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson and Julia Weston, chief executive of the Fellowship.

"So, when the good news finally came through, I was both surprised and overjoyed.

"To have the backing and support of the Churchill Fellowship for my idea is such a boost and an official connection with people like Tanni and all of the other inspirational Fellows is such a fantastic opportunity and a great privilege.

"I would like to thank Ed Plowden, Director of Paths for Everyone at Sustrans and Isabelle Clement, CEO at Wheels for Wellbeing, for supporting my application."

Funding and support for their learning

As part of their Fellowships, Lucy and Kierson will be provided with funding and support for their international trips to visit and learn from organisations and individuals who embody best practice in their chosen field.

Once their learning is complete they will write a report summarising their findings, which will be shared within their chosen communities and on the Churchill Fellowship website.

Applications for 2024/25 Fellowships open from 12 September to 14 November 2023.


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