TRAINEE Brandon Rowat can get to work more easily after becoming the first in the West of England to receive a scooter through a transport scheme.

Brandon, 20, lives in Alveston, near Thornbury, and has just started full-time at wood importer and distributor Lathams in Yate after previously volunteering twice a week at the business.

Brandon has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, and had been struggling to find a job due to his condition. He also had to rely on his father and support worker for lifts to get to job interviews.

But thanks to Wheels to Work West, he can now travel independently on the scooter, which is financed through an interest-free loan.

The scheme helps unemployed and newly employed workers with transport to get to interviews, training and their place of work.

It can also provide free bus tickets and loan bikes, helping people not only at a difficult time financially but also to encourage sustainable travel. It particularly suits people who work unusual or irregular hours, those living in rural locations and those who need to make multiple journeys as part of their work.

Brandon had been unemployed since leaving school and was finding it hard to find work as his condition makes it difficult for him to communicate with new people.

His father approached South Gloucestershire Council's employment support service, which helped him apply for his new job, and Brandon’s local JobCentre then introduced him to the Wheels to Work scheme.

Within two weeks, he had received the scooter, as well as free insurance, tax, road safety training and protective clothing - everything needed to get him onto the road. Once he has repaid his loan, the scooter will be his to keep.

Janet Heather, Brandon’s disability employment support officer, said: “Brandon was unlikely to apply for jobs on his own, so I got in contact with Lathams myself and suggested they invite him in.

"Following two interviews, 180 applicants were shortlisted down to just Brandon and two others. The advertised job eventually went to someone else but they were so impressed with Brandon that he was offered a trainee position with the company.”

Brandon, who went on to become a full-time employee, said: “Having the bike has increased my confidence in my ability to travel independently to work.”