The Motorcycle Industry Association (MCI) has today announced that it has been awarded a grant of £50,000 to facilitate the building of a national network for Wheels to Work (W2W).
Wheels 2 Work originally began as a local initiative in Shropshire back in 2000 and was a scheme to provide transport in the form of scooters to mostly young people – allowing them to access jobs or training, where public transport is not available. There are now 25 schemes operating accross the country including MAG corporate supporters Devon W2W.
The grant, from the Department for Transport (DfT), will secure the current national coordination position and work with existing and future W2W programmes to realise self sustainability objectives and offer other practical support, including developing links with both the public and private sectors. National coordination will help to grow the network, by advising local authorities and other interested organisations on how establishing a W2W programme can help achieve local social and employment objectives. It can also expand interest in motorcycling by getting people on 2 wheels for perhaps the first time.
A Wheels to Work Association (W2WA) will be formed, and all existing W2W programmes will be invited to join. The W2WA is seen as key to bringing together the current programmes, exchanging and sharing best practice and helping to achieve longer term sustainability.
Transport Minister Norman Baker commented: “Helping young people access jobs and training is vital if we are to boost the economy and cut unemployment. Successful Wheels to Work schemes are already operating across the country and can play an important role in helping people to get in to work and gain economic independence – particularly those living in isolated rural communities. “I am delighted to support the MCI in promoting Wheels to Work and hope that greater national co-ordination will mean that more people can benefit from these excellent schemes”.
MCI CEO Steve Kenward said: “Helping young people into employment and training is a priority for the government. MCI is proud to have this facilitating role as these schemes are proven to work where access to transport is the barrier to taking up opportunities. We look forward to helping and supporting W2W programmes in a more structured way and also to continuing dialogue with Government on Wheels to Work related issues.
“We also envisage working with local authorities to demonstrate the advantages of Wheels to Work which could save them money on their existing transport bills. Many will find that this is a cheaper solution than, for example, paying for taxis to get young people to college. There are huge social benefits to the individuals involved – a rise in self-esteem and a wider access to opportunities which can have far reaching effects.
“Wheels to Work can also prevent social exclusion for those living in rural communities. The best schemes produce young riders with a greater sense of road safety and an ability to plan their own transport costs, which helps them personally and as active members of society. This is the model we hope to pursue and expand throughout the country.”
Typically, young people accepted onto W2W schemes are loaned a moped for a period up to nine months, which costs them up to £25 a week (prices vary by scheme). They are also provided with helmets, gloves and protective clothing, for which a small charge is sometimes made.
Being properly trained is an important aspect of these schemes and young people need to have gained a CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) in order to be accepted. Sometimes the cost of a CBT (around £100) is met by the schemes or Job Centre Plus. Additional training is also encouraged and will be continued to be emphasised as part of the remit for the new Wheels 2 Work Association.