Hundreds of young people in Derbyshire are being helped to hold down jobs thanks to a cash boost of around £750,000 to help with transport costs.
Derbyshire County Council is putting in £250,000 over the next five years to ensure the Wheels to Work (W2W) scheme can be rolled out across the county.
W2W provides moped and bike loans to people who would otherwise find it difficult to get to work either because, for example, they live in rural areas where public transport is more limited or because the jobs involve shift work when services do not run.
The project is run by Rural Action Derbyshire and backed by Derbyshire County Council.
More than 2,000 people countywide have already benefitted from W2W which also helps towards insurance, training, breakdown and maintenance costs, plus bus and train fares.
This extra cash, on top of Big Lottery Reaching Communities funding of £477,890, is expected to boost the job prospects and training opportunities of up to a further 500 young adults.
Councillor Andy Botham, Deputy Cabinet Member for Jobs, Economy and Transport, said: “Wheels to Work is an important means of ensuring that people are not prevented from working or taking up training because of a lack of transport.
“The underlying aim is to help people get started in a job. They can have the loan of a moped or bike for up to six months and once they are established they are encouraged to take responsibility for their own travel arrangements in the longer term.”
Sylvia Green, Chief Executive of Rural Action Derbyshire, said: “We’re very appreciative of the support the council has given in helping to secure the lottery funding and their own financial support without which we couldn’t run the scheme.
“We’ve worked very closely with the council over the years to develop a bike training scheme which the council also helps fund. All of this together has helped the project maintain a good safety record and be an overall success.”
Alexandria Le Carpentier lives in Flagg, in rural Derbyshire Dales. The 16-year-old has been working part-time as a lifeguard in Bakewell since December 2012 and relying on lifts from mum and dad to get her to her shifts. The A level student is loaning an electric bike for the 18 mile round trip but is also planning to use it when she goes back to Chesterfield College in September.
Alexandria, who works anything between 6.30am and 9.45pm, said: “There are no buses where I live apart from the school bus which is either too early or too late and I work weekends as well.
“It was getting really awkward, depending on my parents all the time, with everyone having to work around each other. This bike has really given me my independence. I feel I can get up and go everywhere and whenever I want which means I can be much more flexible for work”.
Alexandria added: “I think it will be really useful too when I go back to college. I’ll have some half day lectures when the college buses don’t run but the bike means I won’t have to hang around.”
Find out more about Wheels to Work at www.wheelstowork.org