David Cameron praises Wheels to Work as part of the government’s ‘Big Society’

Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Wheels 2 Work scheme – the first of its kind in the country – has been recognised with a Prime Minister’s ‘Big Society’ award, which acknowledges the place motorcyles can have within society.

The idea behind the awards is to recognise organisations or individuals who have contributed significantly to the good of the local community.  This particular scheme has helped over 2,500 people find a way to travel to work since it began 16 years ago.

Commenting on the award, Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Wheels to Work does a great job of tackling the basic issue of making sure everyone who needs to travel to a job is able to do so.  This is an invaluable service without which many of these young people would have to move away from their friends and families.  It also helps young people to find employment and stay in the rural villages where they have grown up which is important in maintaining these diverse and vibrant local communities.”

This recognition comes soon after Minister Richard Benyon endorsed the concept as a “mainstream solution for transport problems” in rural areas, during his keynote speech at the newly formed Wheels to Work Association’s Annual Conference last month.

Run by Shropshire Community Council, the award-winning scheme has focussed on loaning mopeds to people in rural areas, who would not otherwise be able to get to and from work or training.

In recent years, the Shropshire scheme has expanded to include a range of travel options, including electric bikes and also to help young disabled job seekers with driver training.  The team also work with rural employers to help recruit and retain staff, particularly for positions requiring shift work, which in turn boosts the rural economy.

Cameron continued: “The fact that the scheme has now been replicated around the country is a testament to how effective it is and how important it is to rural areas.  It’s fantastic that the service has now extended to help people with disabilities find jobs and independence too.  I hope Wheels to Work continues to grow and give even more people the chance to work and live wherever they want to.”

Davina Allen, Development Coordinator for Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Wheels 2 Work, said: “We are delighted to win this award. This scheme has made a life changing difference to so many people over the years and we’re proud of all they have gone on to achieve for themselves, their families and communities.”

Nicky Bassett-Powell – MAG member and acting National Coordinator for the Wheels to Work Association added her congratulations: “This is fantastic news for the team at the Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin scheme.  As pioneers of the concept, they deserve this recognition. Wheels to Work embodies the ideals of the ‘big society’ in that it empowers local people and communities to make a difference.  We are hearing very positive comments from the Government about Wheels to Work and this further endorses the model as a mainstream solution for those facing transport problems in rural areas.”