Sunday, 26 September 2021

Smart Works Reading

CYCLING teams and their sponsors have raised more than £22,100, with an additional £4,200 in Gift Aid, for Smart Works Reading, a charity that supports disadvantaged women across the Thames Valley in need of work.

A total of 163 fundraisers took to static and road bikes to pedal for a purpose in the week running up to International Women’s Day on March 8.

Each team of five cycled 500 miles, or the total distance between Smart Works’ regional centres. Cyclists from all over the South-East and beyond signed up with colleagues from Poland, Germany and France joining Bracknell software company Blue Yonder’s teams.

Donations came from as far as New Zealand and from more than 650 sponsors. The 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.

Companies who took part included Microsoft, SAP, Field Seymour Parkes, Collins Aerospace, Thomas International, Blue Yonder, Ethical Reading, BBO PA Network, Technology One, Driven Collective, Collins Vets, Vodafone and SSE.

St 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 Nagel, who 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.

The top individual fund
raiser was Smart Works Reading’s chair Sarah Burns.

She says: “We are beyond thrilled with how our fund-
raisers 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 a 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 we are 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 support. They took time out of their busy lives, work schedules and home-schooling to cycle thousands of miles so energetically and enthusiastically.

“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 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 seeking. Please ask your Job Centre Plus or another support agency for a referral, call 0118 959 4245 or email reading@smart

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