March 9th 2015

Over 1,500 Jobseekers across Derby have already benefitted through Connected – the city’s sustainable travel programme  put in place following the Council’s successful bid to the Department for Transport (DfT) for Local Sustainable Transport Funding (LSTF).

Since the bid was awarded back in late 2012, various schemes were put in place to improve access to employment and overcome transport barriers faced by many job seekers.  A survey carried out before the project highlighted that transport was a barrier to getting back to work, with 90% responding that they would use public transport if they could afford it, and 80% indicating that they would cycle up to five miles to get to work. Not forgetting public transport,

Working with Job Centre Plus and local organisations, Connected set up a number of schemes to overcome these barriers. 

Amongst the schemes is Bike It for Jobseekers – being delivered through Sustrans and the Job Centre.  Bike It offers free cycling advice and practical training to job-seekers, with the aim of helping them to get back into employment by making travelling there easier, cheaper and more sustainable. To date over 650 job seekers have been involved with the scheme.  Joining up with Bike Back Derby, Bike It was awarded a £5,000 Connected grant last year to further enhance the scheme and purchase refurbished bikes from the Bike Back Derby project to enable job seekers to get to interviews, training placements and employment sites once recruited. 

Bike Back Derby takes in donations of unwanted bicycles from the public that are unused and gathering dust and rust and completely refurbish them to a state better than new. All this work is undertaken by inmates at HMP Stocken, a category C prison near Nottingham, where they work towards and gain a level 2 City and Guilds qualification in cycle mechanics.   The team has diverted over 5 tonnes of bikes being scrapped through the refurbishment of over 500 bikes so far, and 450 local people, including job seekers have taken advantage of the low cost scheme, which has saved over 56,000 kilos of CO2.

Other initiatives set up include Wheels to Work which offers transport solutions to get people to work, training or college where public transport isn’t available or doesn’t run at the times required.  They provide bikes and scooters on a short-term loan. Over 130 local people have received assistance through the scheme to reach employment for training.

Connected have also issued over 825 discounted job seekers bus tickets, which were used for 29,000 bus journeys.

Councillor Martin Rawson, Cabinet Member for Planning, Environment and Regeneration said “These schemes have already proven themselves to be a wonderful asset in empowering people to gain access to employment and education opportunities. The cost of travel can sometimes make it difficult for people looking for work, to reach interviews or take up a new post, Connected and the delivery of these schemes have helped, and will continue to help overcome these barriers.”

In total it is estimated that 2,132 job seekers have been contacted through Connected and the schemes put in place. 1,603 of which have received help with transport to gain access to work, which is a significant proportion of the 9,297 recorded as unemployed in Derby in the 2011 Census.