Commission backs transport initiative

Alan Milburn, Lynne Copestake (on bike), Kirsten Francis, principal inclusion policy officer at Northumberland County Council, and David Traish NCC Adult Learning Service project manager.
Alan Milburn, Lynne Copestake (on bike), Kirsten Francis, principal inclusion policy officer at Northumberland County Council, and David Traish NCC Adult Learning Service project manager.
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A transport initiative aimed at helping people in south east Northumberland who are struggling to get to work has received the backing of a top commission.

Alan Milburn, MP, chairman of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, has put his support behind Wheels 2 Work.

The initiative from Go Smarter Northumberland supports people who are struggling to get transport to work, or are unable to accept a job because they can not get there.

The scheme provides those who are employed or enrolled in apprenticeship training programmes access to scooters to manage their transport problems.

Mr Milburn said: “For many people, especially those living in rural areas, access to transport can be a significant issue.

“It’s particularly difficult for those who have to rely on public transportation in an area where services can be limited.

“We need to remove any barriers to employment and support people in the workplace.

“The Wheels 2 Work scooter hire scheme provides a real solution to the problem, its affordable and can make a significant difference to people’s lives.”

Scooters can be loaned through the scheme for as little as £20 a week, and Northumberland County Council said the initiative has been successful in supporting many.

Lynne Copestake, from Ashington, loaned a scooter for six months before purchasing one of her own.

“I work at a care home in Bedlington and because of the hours I do, I often found getting to work a problem,” she said.

“The scooter I loaned was an absolute lifeline, I didn’t have to rely on anyone else to get me to work and it gave me so much independence.”

Since April 2014 the initiative has directly supported more than 850 people to get back into work by helping them to use sustainable transport to travel to work, including scooter and bike loans, cycle skills training, free bus tickets and travel training.

The scheme can also help users plan their journey to work and support them as they start to use the service.