Recognising role of Powered Two-Wheelers in rural areas UK Prime Minister’s bestowed ‘Big Society’ award for Wheels 2 Work scheme. 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.
David 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, and be recognised for the success of the Wheels to Work scheme. 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 – 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.”
The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010. The aim is to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrates the Big Society in their work or activities. In so doing, the aim is also to galvanise others to follow.
Elizabeth McDonald is a 41 year old carer from Telford. Elizabeth had been unemployed for 4 years before securing work as a career at a residential centre for a people with learning and physical disabilities in Ironbridge. In her first month of employment she spent £250 on transport, often using taxis when she needed to work a night shift or spending 3 hours each day on buses and walking. Elizabeth joined the scheme in January 2013 and now has a 50cc moped on loan, saving her time, money, and giving her independence back. She has already started saving and plans to be in a position to buy a 125cc moped at the end of her Wheels 2 Work loan.
Chris Mason is a 29 year old manual worker from Clungunford, an isolated village in rural Shropshire. He was walking up to 15 miles a day in order to work at the Shropshire Spice Company in Clun. Chris joined the scheme in November 2012 and now has an electric bike on loan. This has enabled him to save money for an ebike of his own. He is currently trialling new ebikes for Wheels 2 Work and has provided feedback to inform the purchase of a new fleet in the next month.
Source: MCIA Press office