Women get a helping hand to break into cabbies' world

thisisoxfordshire: Oxford City Cars taxi driver Marcella May Buy this photo » Oxford City Cars taxi driver Marcella May

AN East Oxford taxi firm is paying almost £1,000 a time for women to train as cab drivers.

Last year, Oxford City Cars in Jeune Street became one of a number of businesses to form the HM Diamond Jubilee Legacy Fund for East Oxford, which is encouraging people to invest in improving the lives of local people.

This summer, the firm began offering women free training as taxi drivers. So far three people have taken up the offer and are now driving part-time.

At the moment, there are fewer than five female taxi drivers in the city.

Oxford City Cars’ development officer, Ahmed Rahman, 58, said: “After becoming involved in the Legacy Fund, we brainstormed about practical ways the business could really help local people.

“There are many people around here, particularly women, who might not have worked before, or who are finding it difficult to manage work around their families.

“We know that many of these women drive every day, usually back and forth from school, and Oxford City Cars can benefit highly from more female drivers.

“But it costs a considerable amount of money, close to £1000, to train and get a taxi licence. So we offered to meet the cost.”

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Mum-of-two Marcella May, 35 and from Cowley, qualified as a taxi driver in the summer and is now driving part-time while her son, Nyan, seven, and daughter Taya, six, are at school. She said: “I was previously working as a home carer, which involved a lot of driving.

“But it was a difficult job to fit in around the children, so when I read about the City Cars scheme I jumped at the chance. My customers seem very happy when I come to pick them up, particularly the elderly and I hope a lot of other women take this opportunity.”

Mr Rahman added: “Our customers like female drivers and feel safe with them and eventually, as more women hopefully come forward to take up the opportunity, we plan to hire premises nearby, and qualified childminders, to care for their children should they need it, while they are training.”

In addition to the drivers’ scheme, Oxford City Cars is also offering free, weekly, driving theory classes at its premises for men and women interested in becoming drivers.

Mr Rahman said: “We have a full class of eight at the moment and have a waiting list of 15 for a new one in January. We also hope to organise First Aid courses locally for people.

“It is very important to us that we give back to the community which has helped make our business a success.”

The HM Diamond Jubilee Legacy Fund for East Oxford was initiated by one of Oxfordshire’s Deputy Lieutenants, Monawar Hussain, to encourage people from all cultures and backgrounds to do more together to help their communities.

The fund hopes to collect money to help East Oxford community groups including Restore, Donnington Doorstep, Art Room and Refugee Resource, and all the money collected by the fund will be awarded as grants by Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF).

To help the Legacy Fund, visit justgiving.com/LegacyFundforEastOxford

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