Free bus and metro travel for care leavers launched in South Tyneside
The scheme is being offered in South Tyneside after success in Newcastle, Gateshead and South Tyneside.
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A pioneering scheme which has been previously rolled out in North Tyneside is now being launched in South Tyneside.
The scheme which is being funded by the region’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), which is delivering major investment in the bus network on behalf of the North East Joint Transport Committee - will offer free bus and Metro travel to young people who have recently left local authority care.
Following a successful pilot in Newcastle and Gateshead, and recent roll out in North Tyneside, the scheme is now being offered to 209 care leavers aged 18 to 25 years old located in South Tyneside.
Recipients of the scheme will receive a Pop smart cart alongside an annual Network One season ticket, which will provide them with a year’s worth of free travel across all local public transport in Tyne and Wear.
The scheme is being delivered to help those who have recently left the care system, in the hopes that it will help them towards the best start in adult life.
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Cllr Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee and Leader of Gateshead Council, said: “The care leavers travel scheme is a real success story and following a successful pilot we are delighted to be able to roll it out to more areas using our Bus Service Improvement Plan funding.
“We cannot overstate the difference that free transport will make to care experienced young people in our area, who are juggling the challenges of learning to live independently with the rising cost of living.
“This scheme will make it easier for them to access learning, training and work opportunities, and most importantly will help them to develop the skills to live full, thriving and independent lives as adults.”
Councillor Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "This is a fantastic addition to the wide-ranging support we already offer our care leavers in South Tyneside.
"Our children in care and care leavers already enjoy free access to the Council’s leisure facilities as well as support accessing apprenticeships.
"Our young people leaving care also do not have to pay Council Tax until the age of 25 and last year we made being care experienced a protected characteristic.
Tracey continued: "We know that young people leaving care can struggle both socially and financially so all these measures combined are aimed at supporting them as they make their transition towards adulthood."