A GROUP of intrepid fundraisers cycled 117 miles for 12 hours across southern England in support of the learning disability charity Mencap.
Starting at Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent and ending in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, the ride took place in aid of Mencap’s Young Ambassador programme, which helps young people with a learning disability to find ‘positive pathways’ into work, education and volunteering.
The group managed to raise almost £6,000.
Taking part in the 12-hour challenge was Séan Sweeney, MBE, centre manager of Gunwharf Quays.
He said: ‘I was very proud to be able to take part in such a big and very worthwhile challenge and also for Gunwharf Quays to host the finish.
‘From our partnership with Mencap we know that people with a learning disability can face many obstacles to getting a job, and our work is as much about changing perceptions of learning disability as it is about fundraising.
‘We wanted to raise awareness with our cycle ride and create new opportunities for young people with a learning disability to get into work.’
According to Mencap research, approximately 8 out of 10 working age people with a learning disability could work, but less than 2 in 10 are in paid employment.
Vijay Patel, a Mencap young ambassador who has a learning disability, said: ‘I found it very difficult to get a job without the right support and advice.
‘Some people only saw my learning disability and thought I was incapable.
‘The Young Ambassador programme helped me to build my confidence and I now have a job as an admin assistant at Mencap.
‘We are so grateful to our partners for raising funds and supporting our work.’
Participants were spurred on by drinks from Geared Up cycles and Enterprise Rent-a-car.
They were welcomed back to Portsmouth with refreshments from The Old Customs House.
To find out more about Mencap’s work, visit mencap.org.uk.