A popular scheme which helps local people get to work and training has been given a funding boost by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen.
The cash boost will mean the Wheels 2 Work scheme can be extended for an extra three years.
Wheels 2 Work was established in 2018 and has helped more than 150 people across the Tees Valley who do not have easy access to public transport or a private vehicle secure affordable transport, so they can get to their job or education.
The £645,000 in funding from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority has been invested so that the service, delivered by the Redcar and Cleveland Voluntary Development Agency, can continue to March 2024.
It will also provide a 75 electric motorbikes which are expected to help 400 people across the region access jobs.
As well as giving people the chance to get from A to B, it’s also helping people into work directly. Hartlepool resident Marty secured a 12-week paid work experience placement with Wheels 2 Work through the Routes to Work programme, which has been helping even more people back into work since it was also expanded last year by Mayor Houchen.
This opportunity helped Marty gain full-time employment as an e-scooter fleet manager with Hartlepower, which works with the vehicle’s provider Ginger to help deliver them in the town. He also helps out on national customer care for the e-scooters.
Making the announcement of the extension in Hartlepool, Mayor Houchen said: “This great scheme has helped local people get to work or into training so they can develop the skills they need to take advantage of the thousands of jobs we are creating across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.
“With this new funding, we can help hundreds more people access the good-quality, well-paid jobs we’re helping to create across the region as we recover our economy and people’s livelihoods. No matter where you live in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool you can use Wheels 2 Work, so no one needs to be left behind when it comes to getting where they need to be.
“The service complements our other transport initiatives including the Tees Flex on demand bus service, helping people in rural areas make 45,800 journeys in the first year of operation. As Marty’s story demonstrates, our initiatives aren’t working in isolation, they’re working together to promote real change and give opportunities and change lives for people living right across our region.”
Jill Mortimer, MP for Hartlepool, said: ““Wheels 2 Work is a fantastic scheme, and its extension can help so many more people who don’t have easy access to public transport or a car so they can get to work or boost their skills.
“I would urge people in Hartlepool to get on board with Wheels 2 Work, so they can take advantage of the growing opportunities across Teesside and help our economy grow and thrive.”
Mike Milen, Chief Executive of Redcar and Cleveland Voluntary Development Agency, said: “This new investment by the Mayor and Combined Authority is not only a vote of confidence for the work done over the last few years by team here, but also places Tees Valley at forefront of environmentally sustainable transport as we roll out the first 100% electric scheme in the UK.”
For more information, visit http://rcvda.org.uk/projects/wheels-2-work