Cycle sisters beneficiaries

Cycle Sisters aims to support Muslim women to cycle by creating inclusive and accessible spaces to develop cycling skills and confidence, without having to compromise cultural or religious values.

The charity’s main activity is running community cycle groups for Muslim women (open to all women), from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Many of its participants are mothers and homemakers, often on low incomes with low levels of physical activity. Its work addresses gender and racial inequalities in health and wellbeing, recognising that Muslim communities are disproportionately affected by poor mental and physical health.

The charity also aims to increase the representation and visibility of Muslim women within the wider cycling sector through its team of trained volunteer spokespeople, social media work, engaging with larger cycling organisations to ensure diverse voices are at the table, working with events organisers to ensure Muslim women are represented at major cycling events.

Why did the charity apply for the Inclusive Leadership programme?

Cycle Sisters was at the beginning stages of exploring corporate partnerships as part of its strategy to diversify its income streams. Founder and Programmes & Partnerships Lead, Sarah Javaid, felt that this area had significant potential for sustained income generation but didn’t have the expertise or experience of how to develop it. Through the Inclusive Leadership programme with Pilotlight and its Partner Business Barclays, Sarah wanted to explore how to develop corporate packages and a pitch for sponsorship that would be compelling. Sarah commented:

It was a really enjoyable process. The Pilotlighters were very engaged and had a clear understanding of our brief and goals for the project. They asked really good questions in the initial meetings about our work which then enabled them to come up with a set of solid recommendations about how to approach corporates for potential partnerships. There were also some unexpected added value outcomes such as recommendations around our communications/branding and alternative income streams which was really helpful.

Results after the programme

Since the programme, Cycle Sisters has been working hard to put in place the groundwork needed for pursuing corporate partnerships - this includes developing a fundraising strategy, making changes to its website and branding, and recruiting a Communications & Media Lead.   It’s also had some initial success with forming several new relationships with corporates. One example of this is the charity’s partnership with Brompton which has enabled Cycle Sisters to offer free bike hire for participants of its annual ‘Smiles & Miles’ challenge (which promotes independent cycling by challenging participants to cycle as many miles as possible during the month of February).

Taking part in the programme was an incredibly useful experience for me. It gave me the opportunity to have some dedicated time out from the busyness of programme delivery to explore this really important area for our charity.

Sarah Javaid, Founder and Programmes & Partnerships Lead