The Wheels to Work scheme is helping young people in rural areas of North England to access employment. The scheme loans mopeds to enable young people to access their workplace, apprenticeships and/or training.
Article source: The Yorkshire Post
HUNDREDS of young people living in remote parts of North Yorkshire have started on careers after being helped by a rural transport scheme. Wheels 2 Work
was launched in the county seven years ago, lending mopeds to jobseekers so they could get to work or training.
Transport Minister Rosie Winterton yesterday visited Northallerton to meet some of the young people the project has helped. When the initiative was launched in Hambleton and Richmondshire it was the first in the north of England, but since then it has been expanded to cover other parts of North Yorkshire. There now are 54 similar schemes across the country.
Since its inception, almost 500 people in Hambleton and Richmondshire have benefited from Wheels 2 Work, including 150 people who have got jobs and a further 150 who have gone into apprenticeships and training.
Transport often is seen as a barrier to finding work in rural North Yorkshire and the use of mopeds allows users to access opportunities which, without adequate transport, they would be unable to otherwise.
Ms Winterton said: "Wheels 2 Work is a real success story based around the hard work and commitment of local people."
"As Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber, I believe that one of the ways we can make the region stronger is to give people the chance to take advantage of the employment, training and education opportunities that exist and Wheels 2 Work is helping to do that."
The Minister met an award-winning young cabinetmaker who said help with transport had set him on the road to a skilled career.
Liam Gardener, 19, secured an apprenticeship with Philip Bastow Cabinet Makers in Reeth three years ago and makes the 30-mile round trip to work each day from his home in Gilling West, near Richmond.
He said: "There is no regular transport from my village, I could not have afforded a moped, so my apprenticeship simply would never have started.
"Wheels 2 Work lent me a scooter and provided safety equipment and training. It was fantastic and as an added bonus I could use it to visit my friends.
"It meant I could earn money, save up for driving lessons and buy the car I'd dreamt of owning since I was 14."
That was a 1963 Ford Anglia, as featured in the Harry Potter films.
In 2006 Mr Gardener came joint first in the Institute of Carpenters national finals and last year was first in the regional and national competitions, as well as taking gold in UK Skills Skillbuild contest and two top apprentice awards.
Ms Winterton also met Charlotte Wilson, who was forced to change her career plans after a skiing injury ended her dreams of working in outdoor education.
Miss Wilson, 22, of North Cowton, near Northallerton, had completed her degree but had to reassess her job options after surgery on her shoulder.
She said: "Wheels 2 Work really helped me out at a very sticky stage – I didn't have any savings and trying to find work without transport is impossible.
I always wanted to teach and having a scooter allowed me to secure a post at Mowbray Special School in Bedale. It also gave me a whole new meaning of independence."
Wheels 2 Work in Hambleton and Richmondshire is operated by Northallerton and District Voluntary Service Association, which runs a fleet of 50 scooters for users aged 16 and over.
Scheme co-ordinator Andrew Johnston welcomed the Minister's visit. He said: "It is all too easy to underestimate the transport difficulties young people experience living in rural areas."
Hambleton and Richmondshire Wheels 2 Work scheme is supported by Yorkshire Forward, North Yorkshire county and Richmondshire and Hambleton district councils, Richmondshire Local Strategic Partnership, the Local Network Fund and the European Regional Development Fund.
For information, call 01609 761682, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wheels2work.co.uk
Full article link: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/localnews/Rural-moped-project-puts-young.3925584.jp