Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and the Combined Authority have signed off £65,000 of funding so that more people in Tees Valley can get to work as easily as possible.
The highly successful Wheels 2 Work scheme was established in 2018, funded by £150,000 from the Department for Transport’s Access Fund. The scheme provides an affordable means of transport for local people who do not have access to public transport or a private vehicle, so they can get to work or training.
Those using the scheme are able to hire a small scooter or electric bicycle, along with safety equipment, for up to six months. Full training is also provided for every user.
To date, Wheels 2 Work has supported 90 local people and currently has a waiting list for new users. It initially launched with 30 scooters and 10 electric bikes, but due to demand this was increased to 50 scooters and 27 bikes in April this year. The new funding will see it expand even further, with an additional 30 scooters.
If the demand continues to increase, the scheme will become self-sufficient, allowing even more local people from across Tees Valley to benefit. Success stories have seen people not only get to work, but increase their working days, secure full-time employment from a part-time role and help them spend more time with their families or carry out carer duties.
Mayor Houchen visited the Redcar & Cleveland Voluntary Development Agency, the organisation which manages the scheme, to meet Chief Executive Mike Milen, Dean Coates and Chris Hoyland who administer the programme and Michael Barwick, one of the people helped by the scheme.
Mayor Houchen said: “Here in the Tees Valley we’re securing the investment that is creating the jobs we all want to see come to our region, and we need to make sure all local people have access to them.
“Just last month I signed off forward funding to kick start work on £45million of transport projects to improve public and clean transport across the Tees Valley.
“This extension of the brilliant Wheels 2 Work scheme provides another way for local people to access all of the opportunities we’re creating across the region. It’s been a huge success, directly making local people’s lives better and helping our economy thrive.”
Mike Milen said: “Wheels 2 Work has a growing waiting list, which just demonstrates how valuable this has been to people and businesses across our area. We are working with stakeholders such as the Mayor to address the waiting list as everyone one on the list is an individual whose entry into employment is frustrated or delayed.
“This is more than just bike hire, it helps people gain the confidence, skills and careers they need to be happy and fulfilled. I’m delighted we’re able to continue our good work and look forward to growing even more.”