Wheels to Work and Derbyshire County Council continue vital partnership

Derbyshire County Council has committed to continuing its long standing relationship with Wheels to Work, with the aim of getting Derbyshire moving again.

Wheels to Work, managed by Matlock-based charity Rural Action Derbyshire, provides vital support to individuals struggling with access to employment due to poor public transport links or an absence of suitable travel options.

Government figures estimate that 51% of the rural population are living in areas that have insufficient transport networks, compared to just 2% of those in urban areas, making it difficult to find work or receive training to increase employability.

The Coronavirus pandemic has made this difficult situation even more challenging, as people are encouraged to avoid using the limited public transport available unless absolutely necessary.

By providing access to methods of travel including mopeds and bicycles, Wheels to Work aims to ensure that a lack of public transport does not equate to a lack of opportunity. During both lockdowns Wheels to Work have continued offering transport support to beneficiaries. Although test centers are currently closed until 2nd December, in line with government guidelines, applications will still be processed in readiness for their re-opening.

Historically, Derbyshire County Council has financed core elements of the charity’s crucial work, supporting Wheels to Work’s push to tackle rural poverty across Derbyshire by supplying some capital for purchasing vehicles and vital revenue funding.

The Council has now pledged to continue its effective partnership with Wheels to Work, extending its support package for the foreseeable future.

Councillor Simon Spencer, Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Infrastructure, said:

“We’re continuing to help fund the work of Wheels to Work in recognition of the support this charity gives to people in our rural communities. They’ve had a particularly important role to play during the pandemic, often helping key workers get to the frontline, and have helped to keep Derbyshire moving.

“And as unemployment figures continue to rise, Wheels to Work now has the capacity to support vulnerable individuals in their pursuit of training and employment, helping to boost the local economy during an increasingly difficult period.”

One Wheels to Work beneficiary highlighted the importance of the project, saying, “Wheels to Work are life savers. Without them a lot of people would be struggling. I would have lost my job if I hadn’t been able to get to work, but they got the bike to me quickly so I could keep my job.”

Laura Mitchell, Wheels to Work Project Manager, added: “As people face more barriers than ever to get into and maintain employment, I'm delighted that our partnership with Derbyshire County Council continues to develop and grow, enabling us to offer affordable transport options to people throughout Derbyshire."

For those needing help with transport, please visit www.wheelstowork.org.