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New cycling and walking to work programme aimed at helping residents into work

Partners involved in the new programme – Nancy Waine (Cycling Projects – Cycling and Walking to Work Activator), Ian Tierney (Cycling Projects – Charity Director), Lesley Barnabas (Knowsley Council, Environment Initiatives Officer), Jackie Dwyer (Department for Work & Pensions – Employment Advisor) Barry Redman (MerseyCycle), Terry Redman (MerseyCycle), Karen Brady (Green Space Ranger), David Baker (Business Leader – Decathlon Huyton) & Peter Marchant (Knowsley Council – Knowsley Works Manager)

As we start a new year, a new cycling and walking programme has been introduced aimed at people looking for work (or those who have recently secured employment) and giving them support to walk or cycle to their workplace.

The Knowsley cycling and walking programme aims to support residents into employment by ensuring they can get to and from their workplace, train more residents to be able to lead community rides and walks, encouraging more people to get active and lead healthier lifestyles.

The programme is being co-ordinated by Cycling Projects, a national charity that promotes cycling through a range of community engagement programmes giving people the opportunity to cycle on a regular basis with help, support and guidance. They are working with Decathlon to offer support with bikes and walking equipment and clothing and also MerseyCycle, a local community interest charity, providing re-cycled bikes and equipment such as helmets and lights.

Cycling Projects is raising awareness of the programme through a range of organisations including the council (including Knowsley Works), Job Centre Plus and Knowsley Chamber of Commerce.

Every job seeker who engages with the scheme will be supported through the process and will receive information and advice around route planning, staying safe on the road, deciding on what equipment is needed, and integrating public transport planning for longer commutes. In addition, they will be offered a voucher up the value of £100 to help purchase identified equipment required.

Cllr Shelley Powell, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Wellbeing and Customer Services, said “We are committed to supporting our residents into employment and if their transport mode is a deterrent, this programme may be able to help by considering the variety of transport options available as well financial support to assist with purchasing equipment. In addition, using cycling or walking as part of your daily commute is a great way to get physically active and improve your health and wellbeing. Help and advice is available to help you so I’d encourage residents to find out more about employment opportunities as well as this programme through their local Job Centre Plus or Knowsley Works advisor.”

Rachael Smith from Halewood added “I received a Fitbit from the cycling organisation which has been a great incentive to help me change my lifestyle. Since getting the Fitbit, I have become more aware of how inactive I am as it gives me so much information about my daily activities, so I have set increasing goals to help me increase the amount of activity I do. The Fitbit has also made me aware of my heart rate which is a very clear indicator into how unfit I actually am, so I’m seeing the difference in this area as I’m becoming more fit. I’m also now part of a community of friends at work that have Fitbit’s and challenge each other to who can do the most steps. I have really enjoyed having this support and we are already starting to book into sports events in the summer. Thank you for allowing me to access this support, it has been and still will be a positive influence on my health.”

Further information about the programme is available from Job Centre Plus, Knowsley Works or by contacting Nancy Waine, the Cycling and Walking to Work Activator on 07469 148245.

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