Sheila crosses finish line in 665km cycle challenge

Sheila cycle challenge
Sheila completed her fundraising challenge on World Refugee Day 2015

Former Scottish Refugee Council volunteer Sheila completed her Sheila’s Wheels cycling challenge, covering a 665km in time for World Refugee Day. This distance represents the journey refugees have to make from Glasgow to Croydon to claim asylum. 

Croydon still remains the only location in the UK where people are allowed make an in-country application to seek asylum. There is no financial support for those taking the journey and individuals have to rely heavily on funds such as the Scottish Refugee Council’s Hardship Fund or help from other people, often having nowhere to stay when they reach Croydon.

Sheila says: “The encouragement I got from everyone was the most unexpected thing.  I already knew a lot about the cause from my four years of volunteering, and it was great to engage people with it as they supported my fundraiser.”

Sheila fundraised £1 for each half-kilometre and cycled her way to her target goal of £1330 and is still receiving donations although the challenge has finished. The money fundraised will go towards the Hardship Fund, supporting  those who will have to take this journey in the future.

Inspiration for the fundraiser came from her fellow volunteers who took part in a run for refugees, during which they ran the 665km. Being a keen cyclist, she wanted to do her own version of the fundraiser on her bike.

Sheila started the cycling challenge last September, attempting each day to cover an average of 10 kilometres. She also took up pilates and yoga to help her with training and was accompanied on many of her cycle trips by friends and family supporters.

She says that the toughest part of the challenge was maintaining the routine: “I had to maintain the 10 kilometres every day or else it might build up and become unmanageable. It was a great way of discovering new places on my bike.”

“I liked cycle routes located near water, sometimes taking the train to locations like Garelochhead and cycling back.  I was very lucky and didn’t end up cycling in the Scottish rain too often!”

Sheila was joined for the last leg of her journey by other Scottish Refugee Council volunteers as she completed the cycling challenge at Glasgow Green.

“Nobody could miss me or the other volunteers that day. The bikes were covered in bells and balloons and I was greeted with a pink crown.”