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East Midlands Chamber News

Unlocking the opportunities of work

 

People who live in rural Derbyshire often find it hard to travel to places of work, training or education. Reliable bus services are few and far between and generally impossible for people that do shift work. Jobs are out there, but quite often just not in easy reach.

 

Wheels to Work is a Derbyshire project that has been running for 15 years and has helped over 5000 people with transport or travel advice.

 

Now, thanks to a cheque for £286,275 from Big Lottery Funding and continued support from Derbyshire County Council the Wheels to Work project will continue to be able to support hundreds more people over the next three years. 

 

Historically, the main source of support has been to provide people with bicycles or mopeds, depending on their length of journey. This enables people to travel independently and reach opportunities that would otherwise not have been possible. 

 

The new funding opens up options for more people. As well as offering the service in Derbyshire it will also be helping people across the border in parts of Nottinghamshire. The M1 corridor is a popular site for many industrial estates and business parks where there is generally a high number of employment opportunities year round, but especially at Christmas.

 

Laura Mitchell, Project Manager said; “The funding will enable us to work alongside Rural Community Action Nottinghamshire and enable us to complement the service they are already offering. By working in partnership we will be able to provide a further reach of support across Nottinghamshire, a first for RAD”.

 

It's not just jobs that can be difficult to get to. With limited transport choices, students making decisions about their post-16 options may feel they have to make their decision based on where they can get to rather than what they would like to do. Again, provision of a bicycle or moped could open doors for many.

 

If a journey is less than three miles, it's generally a bicycle that the project would provide. The bikes allocated are refurbished and in good condition. For longer journeys mopeds can be offered on an initial six month loan basis. A contribution, currently no more than £30 per week, towards the running costs, training, maintenance and protective rider equipment is required. At the end of the loan period there are options to continue for a further six months, give the moped back or buy it.

 

Derbyshire County Council has been working with the Wheels to Work project for many years.  Chris Hegarty from their Public Transport Unit said: "The Big Lottery Funding is tremendous news. Wheels to Work provide a really vital service allowing young people to access educational and employment opportunities which otherwise they would struggle to access. We are delighted to continue supporting this fantastic project.”

 

The Wheels to Work project is hosted by Rural Action Derbyshire (RAD), an independent organisation and registered charity. Beverley Parker, RAD CEO said: "We strongly believe that living in rural communities should be an option for everyone and that no one should be forced to move to larger towns and cities simply for better access to services and opportunities.

 

"One of the many benefits of this funding is that as well as expanding over the border into Nottinghamshire, we can also help those who may not be work ready, or are experiencing social or rural isolation. These individuals could still benefit from having travel advice and support leading to, we hope, improved wellbeing." 

 

The development of the Wheels to Work project is growing in more ways than one. To take into account the additional elements the name is also changing. It will now be known as Wheels to Work & Wellbeing, Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire.

 

A fleet of new mopeds has just arrived at Via Moto in Clay Cross. These will soon be allocated to new riders on the scheme.

 

There are currently eight people going through the application process. Once they have passed their CBT, arrangements are made to deliver their bike at the test centre for their CBT+. Once they have passed this they are free to go and enjoy the benefits of having their own transport.

 

If you would like more information or you would like to apply, please contact the team on 01629 592976, or email info@wheelstowork.org or visit the website www.wheelstowork.org.

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