Bike loans offer young people better prospects

Loans of two wheels will make a big difference to some young people living in the Winchester district, thanks to a scheme that has been introduced in the area. 


Hampshire County and Winchester City Councils have introduced 'Wheels to Work', a moped loan scheme operated on behalf of the councils by Community First New Forest.  Wheels to Work aims to give 16-25 year olds the means to get to work, vocational training courses or interviews.


The Winchester scheme was launched, officially, at Colden Common Community Centre by Councillor Sam James, Chair of the East Central Hampshire Action Team.  Councillor James commented: “I am delighted to see the Wheels to Work scheme come to the Winchester area. Young people living in rural areas generally need to travel beyond where they live to get to work or to centres where they can undertake vocational training on the path to permanent employment and public transport options may be limited. These same people generally have no transport of their own because they don’t have the money to fund this yet. 


“They need a job in order to be able to earn a living which will allow them the means to organise their own transport. Wheels to Work aims to break this cycle and give 16 to 25 year olds a step up on the ladder of independence.”


Thanks to the  joint funding from the two councils, fully taxed and insured 50cc mopeds can be loaned for any period of time between three and 12 months.  A fleet of 12 mopeds is available to cover the district, at a hire charge of £12 per week each.


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.


Moped hirer Chris Hogan, age 20 years and from Winchester,  said: “I was referred to the scheme by Jobcentre Plus when I got a job as an assistant administrator here at the Community Centre.  It is a great scheme and a really good idea for people like me who find it hard to get to a job because the buses aren’t running at the times that I need to be able to get to work on time.”


Hampshire County Council's Executive Member for Environment, Councillor Mel Kendal, commented: "We are pleased to be able to extend this service to the Winchester district.  Wheels to Work has been operating for the past few years in the New Forest and Test Valley areas and benefited a number of young people by increasing the opportunities available to them and helping them to get to work or vocational training."


Cllr George Beckett, Leader of Winchester City Council said, “I am delighted that young people in the Winchester District now have a new way to travel to work, as we recognise that there are rural transport issues which impact on young people’s ability to access employment opportunities.”


In the interest of safety, all users will have to complete compulsory basic training, and will be given a high visibility jacket, gloves and helmet - all of which are provided under the scheme. Included in the scheme’s terms is an exit plan which is agreed with the moped borrower and, in some cases, can make provision for him or her to save up to buy their own transport.


The scheme builds on the successful partnership working  being promoted through the work of the Hampshire Senate.  This approach has helped to improve residents’ lives through a number of schemes, among them six  projects to support rural communities.  Through the ‘New Jobs, New Futures’ partnership project, 900 new jobs will be created also, for young people in Hampshire who have been out of work for more than a year.


Those wanting to find out more about the Wheels to Work scheme can contact 01962 857375.