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Location: Reading
Event date: March 8, 2021

Cycling teams and their sponsors have raised over £22,100 – and an additional £4,200 in Gift Aid – for Smart Works Reading, a charity that supports disadvantaged women in the Thames Valley into work. 

163 fundraisers took to static and road bikes to pedal for a purpose in the week running up to International Women’s Day on 8th March. Each team of 5 cycled 500 miles, the total distance between Smart  Works’ regional centres 

Support from beyond the Thames Valley

Cyclists signed up from all over the South East and beyond – colleagues from Poland, Germany and France even joined Bracknell software company Blue Yonder’s teams. 

Donations came from as far away as New Zealand and from over 650 sponsors. Money raised will go towards covering core costs and providing Smart Works Reading’s free interview dressing and coaching service to women looking for work in the Thames Valley. 

Fantastic corporate sign-ups

Local companies participating in the challenge included Microsoft, SAP, Field Seymour ParkesCollins Aerospace, Thomas International, Blue Yonder, Ethical Reading, BBO PA Network, Technology One, Driven Collective, Collins VetsVodafone, and SSESt Helen and St Katharine School in Abingdon entered several staff teams, and a group of old school friends in London also signed up after being encouraged by special project volunteer Joanna Nagelwho recruited and supported fundraisers. 

Teams of family and friends also took part, including one group who substituted their pre-lockdown football matches with some competitive cycling. All participants were told to adhere to social distancing rules when cycling outside. 

“Wremain ready to help more women to rebuild their confidence and transform their lives” 

The top individual fundraiser was Smart Works Reading’s Chair, Sarah Burns MBE. Sarah says: 

“We are beyond thrilled with how our fundraisers and sponsors rallied behind Cycle for Smart Works 2021 to make it our biggest challenge fundraiser ever. 

This time last year we were facing our first lockdown and had to very quickly adapt our service to remote delivery. We have continued to support our clients throughout the pandemic and are proud to have also introduced successful, free career coaching service to help women at an earlier stage in their job search 

Fundraising events like Cycle for Smart Works have been crucial for this important work. We are needed now more than ever, and thanks to our fabulous supporters we remain ready to help more women to rebuild their confidence and transform their lives. 

We can’t thank our teams and their sponsors enough for their supportThey took time out of their busy lives, work schedules and homeschooling to cycle thousands of miles so energetically and enthusiastically. We loved seeing their photos on social media and their achievements on our leaderboard.  

We all know someone who has been bereaved, made redundant, overcome illness or returned to work after an absence. We are here to support women facing these issues and other barriers to employment, and we are proud to be part of their journey back into work.” 

Smart Works Reading supports women and people who identify as women from the Thames Valley area who are job seekingPlease ask your Job Centre Plus or another support agency for a referral, or  contact, 0118 959 4245.