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Case studies

London to Paris cycle ride: For the nation’s unpaid carers

Case studies

London to Paris cycle ride: For the nation’s unpaid carers

Fundraising for our charity partner, Carers UK

London To Paris Cycle

53 cyclists, 3 days, 385km and an incredible £57,960 raised for charity. We caught up with James Mitchell, Head of Strategic Partnerships & Research to find out why he and our other colleagues took part in this amazing feat of endurance, the highs and lows of the challenge and his advice to colleagues thinking about taking on a challenge.

There are 5.7 million unpaid carers in the UK and they’re a critical part of our societal function. The mental and physical strain of caring for a loved one, as well as trying to hold down a job is massive and we just want to give back to society and help those who engage in that capacity.

James and the fantastic group of cyclists took on this challenge as part of our Caring for carers initiative, which is designed to support charities across the UK that focus on caring. Across 3 years, we aim to help millions of people who work and care for someone to better balance some of the challenges they might face, be they personal, financial, professional or emotional.

We set off from our London office and on the first day cycled 100km to Brighton. Every rider completed this section with 20 continuing to Paris, as planned. We had a really diverse group of cyclists, some of whom cycle hundreds of kilometres a week and others who had cycled 100 kilometres in a day for the first time as a result of this challenge. We call the latter group our record breakers.

The logistics in organising such an event can be pretty complex, and thanks to our Community & Events team, everything ran smoothly – although the weather in France wasn’t as hoped…

On the 70km stretch from Calais to Ruan, the weather was not kind to us - Scuba gear would have been more appropriate than cycling gear! The team put on their waterproofs and battled through. It was a tough section but we were all focused on what we needed to do and had our minds set on a nice bit of rest and relaxation ahead of the following day which was the longest of the ride.


Sadly, the weather isn’t something you can guarantee however James says you can always count on the people of France to show their support.

France is a nation of cyclists and as a result, they are extremely supportive. At one point when we stopped for breakfast, one of our cyclists had suffered a flat tyre. A retired gentleman on his way back from picking up fresh bread came over and offered him some tissues to wipe his hands. We had a good conversation with him in French about fixing flat tyres and thanked him for his help. He wasn’t the only one to show support to us during the trip – the motorists are in the main very courteous and strangers in the street clapped us through. It was such a great experience - chatting and cycling through the French countryside with a group of like-minded people whilst raising money to support unpaid carers.

The group were rewarded with blue skies as they cycled the final 140km into Paris, and as they approached the end of their mammoth ride, embarked on a game of ‘spot the Eiffel Tower’.

As we reached the Parisian suburbs, we challenged each other to be the first to spot the Eiffel Tower – although we were sure to keep our eyes on the road too! Paris is pretty congested at the best of times but even more so on the lead up to the Olympic games. We were chuffed with our finisher photo having the tower in the background with the Olympic rings on it.

The incredible group of cyclists were made up of Phoenix Group colleagues and partners of the business. This is just one event of a series where colleagues will be doing incredible things by volunteering and fundraising for our charity partners. We are in awe of you!

Asked about what he would say to anyone considering fundraising, James said;

I think if you’re considering it, then you’ve probably made the decision to do it. Do what you can and have fun doing it!

We celebrate our colleagues who are doing great things to help make a positive difference in our communities through our Phoenix Heroes campaign, including offering company matching for fundraising efforts and giving three days paid leave for volunteering each year.

If you would like to donate in support of the London to Paris cycle ride, click below.

Why support unpaid carers?

Many unpaid carers don’t recognise themselves as being a carer. Many may feel that they’re just fulfilling their duty for a loved one, but we believe if you support someone on a daily, weekly or monthly basis then you are a carer.

Research from Carers UK shows 1,200 people become an unpaid carer every day and 600 people leave the workforce every day as they can’t juggle the responsibilities of working and caring. We believe we need to help unpaid carers stay in work for as long as they want or need to ensure that they can save for the future.

We advocate for:

  • More guidance on what constitutes an unpaid carer
  • More signposting to the support available for unpaid carers
  • Paid carers leave