Hundreds of young jobseekers in Leeds are being given free bus travel as part of a £1.2m scheme to help them get back into work.
More than 800 young people aged 18-24 are being offered free weekly bus travel cards to help them get to college and work experience placements as part of the Head Start programme.
The scheme, which is run by the city council, gives young people searching for jobs the chance to take up training and work experience placements with local employers.
Calvin Rollins, 21, recently completed a placement through Head Start, working with Leeds City Council’s corporate and central services in Seacroft, and was able to travel from his home in Horsforth for free.
Working as an admin assistant, Calvin, who had been out of work for more than six months, was able to get to grips with a number of software packages and learn about working in an office environment.
He said: "I got so much out of it and learned some great, practical skills that I think will stand me in really good stead when I go for interviews and jobs in the future. I also met some really great people who helped me a lot.
"But it was a long way to go and if it hadn’t been for the free travel, I don’t think it would have happened and I wouldn’t have been able to get to the placement. Being able to get there for free has really helped me make the most of the opportunity."
Since completing the placement, Calvin has been supported to apply for a number of jobs and has even been put forward as a Head Start champion because of the excellent standard of his work.
Launched earlier this year, the programme is designed to help unemployed people aged 18-24 find jobs by offering them supported work experience placements.
Those claiming jobseekers allowance for six months are eligible to take part in the programme.
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills, said: "The Head Start programme is all about breaking down barriers for young people who are looking for work and helping them to find their way into jobs.
"Young people have told us that one of the major obstacles for them getting into employment support programmes is the cost of travelling to and from college and placements.
"The last thing we want is for talented, enthusiastic jobseekers to miss out simply because they can’t afford to get to where they need to be.
"By offering them these free bus passes, it takes away that extra money worry, allowing them to really focus on making the most of their placements and equipping themselves with the skills and experience they need to give them the best possible chance in a tough job market."
Businesses interested in giving young people an opportunity through Head Start can contact Michelle Law by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0113 3952905.