Moving people into work

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TRANSPORT chiefs in South Yorkshire have met with local businesses, agencies and partner organisations to celebrate the achievements of a three-year project which has helped thousands of people to access jobs, education and training.

The Access to Opportunities (A2O) project, managed by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), has worked with employers since 2009 to help them to recruit and retain staff through providing travel advice, enhanced bus services and access to the discounted loan of motor scooters.

The project has been financially supported by the European Union, attracting £2.38m of investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Over its three-year delivery, the project has seen an estimated 1.3m passenger journeys made on public transport, provided more than 7,000 individuals with travel advice and support and produced 4,000 personal journey plans.

Jenny Dewsnap, work programme contract manager at North Doncaster Development Trust (NDDT), used A2O to reduce real and perceived geographical, information and cost barriers associated with getting to work for her clients.

She said: “NDDT has accessed support for our customers on our ‘back to work’ programmes over the last three years.

“A2O staff have assisted us in making provision for quite literally hundreds of people to get back to work.

“For anyone going into a new job it can be a daunting experience, but for the long-term unemployed this is very often much worse and their fears can be a real barrier to them.

“A2O allows us to provide information on bus routes, times and costs and eliminates the transport problems, taking away one of their worries completely.”

Although A2O’s primary activity is reaching its conclusion, last week SYPTE, with Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield districts, was awarded £24.6m to continue to help boost the local economy and get people back to work.

The investment, from the Government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund, will allow SYPTE to encourage sustainable commuting and reduce congestion, and help businesses to reach more potential employees in South Yorkshire.

Building on a £5m LSTF allocation awarded to SYPTE last June, the funding will go towards new cycle and bus routes, travel information and making journey times more reliable.