10th Barnet care leaver gains licence through charity flagship driving scheme
This week saw Barnet’s tenth care leaver successfully gain their driving licence through charity Live Unlimited’s flagship driving lessons scheme.
The Driving Ahead scheme was created by Live Unlimited in 2019 in response to the high cost of learning to drive for the borough’s care experienced young people. Live Unlimited was founded in 2018 to provide opportunities and support to Barnet’s 680 looked after children and care leavers above and beyond the comprehensive package of care provided by the council.
Included in the scheme, open to any Barnet care experienced young person aged 17-25, is a package of 46 hours free driving lessons, theory test fee and support, plus practical test fee. The scheme is delivered in partnership with AA and BSM Driving Schools.
Covid-19 meant driving lessons were paused for months on end, and many pupils saw their lessons stopped multiple times. The pandemic caused a huge backlog of people trying to book their driving tests, meaning the pupils needed to show huge determination in finding a practical test slot.
Since the scheme began 15 young people have taken their driving tests, with the 10th Barnet care leaver Kane Rance passing first time on 1st August.
Kane, 22, said: “I feel as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I was accepted on the scheme back in 2019 but I broke my leg and then Covid happened. I’m over the moon I’ve finally passed. Now I’ve got my licence it gives me whole new options for work.”
Of the ten young people who have passed their tests, most are using their licences in their line of work, as a plumber, mechanic, mobile hairdresser, delivery driver and electrician.
Nine further care leavers are currently taking driving lessons, five are on the waiting list and five are studying for their theory test.
Live Unlimited Project Manager Sue Cocker said: “Learning to drive is a huge milestone for any young person, but for a care leaver it can be a game changer. Having a driving licence opens up a huge range of employment opportunities and enables them to subsidise themselves through college. However, with the average cost of learning to drive coming in at £1,350, it is no wonder this is financially out of their reach.
“The scheme is also fantastic at boosting self-esteem. By finding out they are adept at parallel parking or clutch control, young people can build up their confidence and help them feel they can tackle other life challenges.
“I am incredibly proud of our Terrific Ten drivers who passed their tests, which is no mean feat given the challenges of Covid and the national pass rate is only 46%! The five young people who did not pass on their first or second attempts should also be very proud of themselves. Learning to drive is not easy and I am sure they will be able to build on their experience and hopefully pass their tests in the near future.”
Edmund King OBE, Director of the AA Charitable Trust, said: “It is brilliant that Driving Ahead has now helped ten care-leavers to successfully pass their tests. Potentially this can transform their lives by building their confidence and self-esteem, enhancing their mobility and opening up new employment opportunities.
“Learning to drive is a life skill that many young people take for granted. It is difficult to fully appreciate how useful driving is, as teenagers make the transition to full independence. Driving is something many teenagers in care or care leavers never get to experience and they are often the young people who need the most help to build a secure and independent future. We are delighted that Live Unlimited has worked with the AA Trust and AA and BSM driving schools to make this happen.”
Our Driving Ahead scheme is a package of 46 hours of free driving lessons, theory test fee and support, plus practical driving test fee, for young people aged 17-25 leaving the care of the London borough of Barnet.
Being able to drive can be a game changer for a vulnerable young person, boosting their self esteem, employment options and reducing social isolation. It also instils a sense of self worth. The fact a young person can learn to drive helps them to think they can succeed in other areas of life too. We now also offer support for young people who need help with passing their theory test.
Since the scheme’s launch in 2019 six young people have passed their test, three failed, nine young people are currently having driving lessons and three more are on our waiting list.
Of the six who passed, five are using their licences in their line of work, as a plumber, mechanic, mobile hairdresser, delivery driver and electrician.
“I studied plumbing at college, but having my licence helped me get a job afterwards,” says Mahmoud. “Now I’ve got this job I just want to learn as much as possible and eventually I’d like to be self-employed. I feel hopeful about the future.”
“I didn’t pass my test first time, but I’m not bothered – not everyone passes first time and I’ve rescheduled it for March 2022,” says Rebecca. “Learning to drive has been good for me in other ways. It’s made me feel more responsible and grown up, as well as helped me to focus and be in the moment. It’s also made me say to myself on a few occasions ‘Rebecca, if you can parallel reverse park you can do the dishes!’”
To apply to Driving Ahead, participants must have been in the care of the London Borough of Barnet, aged 17-25 and to have passed their theory test. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form.6
“The Driving Ahead scheme has made me feel more independent. It has also helped me move towards one of my biggest goals which is to open up a customizing garage. Now I have the opportunity to do a driving job, too, as a second option. It has opened a lot of doors for me.”
“My experience of the Driving Ahead Scheme was incredibly amazing. I was so grateful to be accepted onto it. It gave me a lot of freedom for my future”
How it works
Our scheme is run by Live Unlimited with driving lessons delivered through AA and BSM driving schools.
The scheme works by matching the young person aged 17-25 with an experienced driving instructor who will support them to take their practical test.
Learning to drive is a big responsibility and we expect the young people to have passed their theory test as a sign of their commitment.
Who can apply?
Looked after children and care leavers aged 17 – 25, with London Borough of Barnet as their corporate parent.
How to apply?
The number of applicants on the Driving Ahead scheme are limited. To meet our eligibility criteria you must be a Barnet looked after child or care leaver and be able to show how learning to drive will help you.
To apply to Driving Ahead, participants need to have been in the care of the London Borough of Barnet, aged 17-25 and to have passed their theory test. Contact email@example.com for an application form.
Learning to drive is expensive, with the average learner costing approximately £950.
if you’d like to make a huge difference to the life and job chances of a young person.
With thanks to our supporters including the AA Charitable Trust.