Derby

Jobseekers to get 50 free bikes under £5,000 Sustrans scheme

Bikes for the unemployed Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A trial scheme will see 50 unemployed people receive a free bike, helmet and lights to help them find a job

Jobseekers in Derby will be given free bikes refurbished by prisoners in a bid to help them find work.

Transport charity Sustrans will buy a bike, helmet and lights for 50 unemployed people in a scheme thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.

The £5,000 trial is funded by the city council's Connected initiative, aimed at encouraging alternatives to cars.

Al Ditheridge, from Sustrans, said he was "hopeful" more money would be granted to extend the scheme.

"Where affordability is an issue, bikes are cheap, they are cost-effective," he said.

"The main person who's going to get a jobseeker a job is the jobseeker. What the bike might help them do is go for training opportunities and go for work opportunities.

"Potentially a shift worker can't access a bus as there are no buses at 2am."

Unemployed people who live in Derby and who receive jobseekers' allowance can apply to receive one of the bikes, which will be provided by the Bike Back Derby project.

Under the scheme, inmates at HMP Stocken in Leicestershire refurbish bikes as they work towards a City and Guilds qualification in cycle mechanics.

The city council's Connected initiative is partly funded by the Department for Transport's Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

Trevor Cope, who is on jobseekers' allowance, said: "Certainly relying on public transport isn't always the best.

"It will get me to interviews and training and keep me healthy at the same time."

In the early 1980s, the then Conservative employment secretary Norman Tebbit told of how his father had got "on his bike" to find work during the Great Depression.

His suggestion that unemployed Britons should get on their bikes to find a job provoked a political row.

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