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Wheels2Work County Durham is celebrating the completion of phase 1 of the Recycle2Work bicycle project 8 months ahead of schedule.

The year-long project received a £10,000 funding award from the County Durham Community Foundation ‘Poverty Hurts’ programme with an aim of full delivery within 1 year, however, the popularity and proven need for the scheme has seen the project delivered in under 4 months.

In total, 40 County Durham residents were allocated non-electric pedal-bicycles to get them to and from work or education, and 88% were over the age of 25.

Facebook advertising was used to promote the offer along with support from referral agencies within the County Durham employability sector. Recommendation and “sharing” through Facebook users generated 70% of enquiries with visits to our website from Facebook nearing 7,000 of the 7,269 unique visits recorded during this 90-day period.

Wheels2Work Project Manager Liam Weatherill said “We ran a pilot scheme for the Recycle2Work programme in the Summer of 2022 with 10 bicycles and received nearly 50 applications, so we were very confident that increasing this offer to 40 bicycles would return significant enquiries as the need was proven. However, after promoting the opportunity in the colder months at the beginning of 2023, we were delighted with the response with over 100 enquiries with the first 40 people meeting the criteria being allocated this mode of personal transport.

We welcomed County Durham residents to apply who could prove confirmation of employment or a long-term education course for whom punctually and safely accessing their place of work or study was a struggle and could not afford their own new bicycle. We encouraged successful applicants to make a £50 contribution and were afforded a £250 Halfords E-Giftcard voucher to make the online or in-store purchase of a bicycle and accessories. A small amount for us to allocate to get people into work, and we continue to receive enquiries even though this phase of the programme is now closed.”

Included in the many benefits of the scheme for applications was having control over their own punctuality, not having the stigma of being late for work when other transport options had not arrived on time or at all, improvement in physical and mental health, not being reliant on lifts, opportunity to accept offers of overtime and mutli-site work, job security and travelling in the “greenest” of transport modes.

One person who joined the scheme was a 19-year old young man from East Durham with autism “I really can’t express how thankful I am that this was available to myself. It’s already made a massive difference as I’ve managed to ride to work for the first time today. I won’t have to stress about how early I have to leave just to be on time for work. It’s also going to make a difference to my physical health and capabilities (due to medical issues). Having the bike means that I will be able to perform better in my job role and feel better overall in myself. Again, thank you so much.”

Michelle Cooper, CEO of County Durham Community Foundation said ““We’re proud to have supported the Recycle2Work scheme through a grant from our Poverty Hurts Appeal. It’s truly inspiring to see this scheme’s positive impact on the lives of local residents, particularly those facing difficulties accessing education or employment. We encourage local businesses to join us in supporting the Recycle2Work scheme so that more people can benefit from the opportunity to access free transport, improve their job prospects, and enhance their overall wellbeing.”

Wheels2Work County Durham are offering County Durham businesses the opportunity to be part of the continuation and expansion of the Recycle2Work programme. From providing a donation to add anything from 1 to 50 bicycle-bundles to the scheme which will benefit more people faced with difficulties in reaching their place of employment or education. The programmable is easily scalable, and company support is extremely visual across social media platforms and the employability sector, aligns with the Environmental and Social Governance aims of private sector organisations and effectively provides free travel for those who need it most. Please contact Liam Weatherill, Project Manager, Wheels2Work County Durham for more details.

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