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Driving Ahead celebrates fifth birthday milestone!


15/05/24





Our flagship Driving Ahead scheme is celebrating five years of success this month!


Driving Ahead was launched as a pilot scheme for 12 care leavers by Live Unlimited in May 2019, delivered by the AA Driving School. It provides 46 hours free driving lessons, plus theory and practical test fee, to any Barnet care leaver. The pilot was so successful it continued and since then 32 young people have taken their driving tests, with 23 learner drivers passing to date!


As well as the young people using their driving skills in a range of different work opportunities including mobile hairdressing, car mechanic, electrician, plumber, trainee vet and nursing, Driving Ahead has demonstrated a significant boost to the drivers’ confidence and self-esteem.


Our most recent driver Daniella said: “Having a driving licence allows me to apply for the apprenticeship I want to become a paramedic. I couldn’t have done this without the opportunity Live Unlimited provided.”


Driving Ahead is currently supporting 11 care leavers in taking their driving lessons and has 12 people on their waiting list eager to join. It also provides additional support to young people in passing their theory test.


Sue Cocker, Operations Director for Live Unlimited, said: “Learning to drive can be a game changer for a care leaver. It not only unlocks doors to new work and social opportunities, it brings unexpected life benefits for young people such as Holly who is using her licence to volunteer and support others.


“With the average costs of lessons needed to pass now coming in at nearly £1,700, learning to drive can be financially out of reach for most care leavers.

We wouldn’t be able to continue to provide this life changing opportunity and help level the playing field for care experienced young people without support from the AA Charitable Trust and our donors.


“There is no better feeling than hearing the excitement in a young person’s voice when they call to say they have passed their test. We look forward to hearing how Driving Ahead has unlocked the doors to their success for years to come!”


AA President, Edmund King OBE, said: “ Driving Ahead launched by innovative charity Live Unlimited five years ago has help to transform the lives of more than twenty three care leavers. The AA Charitable Trust’s research with Bristol University shows that such schemes not only enhance mobility and job prospects, but also help the self-esteem and confidence of the teenagers, even if they don’t pass their test. We are delighted that the AA Trust and AA Driving School have helped along the way. I have met several of the successful candidates and was incredibly impressed with their commitment to succeed and use their new mobility to start and build their careers.


“We are also delighted to be helping care leavers by offering them free AA Theory Test Apps as the research showed extra help was needed with the theory test. We praise Live unlimited for their endeavour and enterprise in making Driving Ahead such a major success.”


Case Study: 12,000 miles in 7 months; and counting!


Holly, 23, passed her driving test first time in June 2023 despite huge difficulties in securing a practical driving test in London due to the Covid backlog. She is now using her driving licence as a student nurse and as a Street Doctors volunteer.


“I passed my test through the support and funding of Live Unlimited. My licence has opened incredible opportunities for me both intended and expected but also unintended and unexpected. I can travel all over the country for work while minimising anxiety and distress using public transport. Being care experienced I had a difficult time with housing and had to move many times and this would not have been possible without my licence and car. My licence has enabled me to improve my mental health by doing activities such as driving to see the sunrise or sunset in parts of the country that are special to me. As a care leaver, most opportunities are offered to manage basic needs and having a licence would not have been a priority. Having this opportunity has changed my life and created stability and mental enrichment.”



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