Hire scheme sets people on the road to employment

Wheels to work has enabled Liam Souter to take up a cabinet making apprenticeship near Wallington
Wheels to work has enabled Liam Souter to take up a cabinet making apprenticeship near Wallington

People wanting to start a new job but who don’t have the transport to get there could be on the road to a brighter future.

Wheels to Work, a scooter loan scheme, helps people who live or work in Northumberland to access employment when they have no other way of getting there.

The council-funded hire scheme offers electric scooters for between £17 to 22 per week to those aged 16 and over who have a confirmed placement in work or as an apprentice.

Training, safety equipment, insurance breakdown cover and the taxing and servicing of the scooter are all provided.

Coun Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services, said: “Wheels to Work is aimed at helping those who live in areas that have limited public transport options, cannot afford their own car and have no other transport options to turn to.

“The scheme particularly suits people who work irregular hours, people in rural locations with poor public transport connections and those who need to make multiple journeys as part of their work.

“Wheels to Work aims to break the cycle and give people a step up on the ladder of independence by offering short-term, affordable and sustainable transport; if they can secure a job, they can earn a living which will allow them the means to organise their own transport in the future.”

Since the scheme started in 2013, 350 people have benefited from the hire of the scooters.

One of those is 18-year-old Liam Souter, who lives in Tarset and used the scheme when he started his apprenticeship at Shieldhall, near Wallington, an 80-mile-a-day journey.

Liam said: “I was really pleased to find I was eligible for the scheme after I responded to an advert about it and the process of receiving the scooter was quick and efficient.

“Through the scheme, I have been able to take up the apprenticeship that was offered to me and it has expanded my social life since I live in a remote location in Northumberland.

“It allows me to travel to work, earn money and support myself.”

To find out more, email w2w@northumberland.gov.uk or call 01670 620136.