Motor project to train young people gains Lottery funds

thisisoxfordshire: Trax director Lyndon Biddle with cycling ambassador Charlotte Walker-Moore Buy this photo » Trax director Lyndon Biddle with cycling ambassador Charlotte Walker-Moore

A PLAN to offer jobs to unemployed teenagers has won £44,250 after being voted the most deserving project in a Lottery programme on TV.

Trax Motor Project beat a charity in Portsmouth after short films about the two projects were shown on The People’s Millions on ITV, with viewers casting their vote by phone.

Director Lyndon Biddle said: “It’s very good news.”

Trax, based at Red Barn Farm, near Pear Tree, Oxford, will use the money to set up two new initiatives.

The first will train jobless youngsters as bicycle mechanics so they can offer courses to nine- to 14-year-olds, while the second social enterprise will offer a catering service to businesses and other charities.

The bicycles will come from Oxfordshire County Council recycling sites and people attending the courses will be able to keep the bike they restore.

Mr Biddle said: “We deal with young people who haven’t had great success at school and give them practical skills. At the moment it’s difficult for them to get jobs, so this is intended to give them work experience to put on their CV.”

He said the bike courses could take place at youth clubs or schools around the county, while the catering service had already held a few pilot events.

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“This funding is to get us off the ground. To be a genuine social enterprise, it has to be sustainable in the long term.”

He said revenue would come from charging for maintenance courses and for catering.

“We are doing catering already for a dementia charity and for a young offenders’ event. They’re really pilots to test things out. At the moment, we’re refining our ideas and we go live in January.”

In September, Trax, formed more than 20 years ago to combat rising car crime, won a £5,000 Diamond Jubilee Grant from Oxfordshire Community Foundation towards the projects. Trax started by training young car offenders as car mechanics. Since then it has branched out to offer qualifications in IT, literacy and numeracy, as well as hospitality and catering.

Trax, which has helped 5,000 young people gain skills, qualifications and employment over the past two decades, was one of six groups shortlisted for the Meridian West area, which were voted on over three nights.

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