By Mick Jensen
Volunteer driver mentors are needed to support a new programme that will help young Ashburton adult drivers get their restricted and full licences.
The Community Driver Mentor Programme (CDMP) is being delivered by the Salvation Army and will provide opportunities for supervised driving experience and licence support.
The Ashburton programme will begin operating from March and aims to help 90 drivers each year – 70 moving from learners to restricted licences and 20 from restricted to full licences.
CDMP driver programme co-ordinator Struan Cain said the programme was an exciting opportunity for young drivers and others in Ashburton.
Some 760 drivers have successfully advanced through the CDMP programme since the Salvation Army implemented the New Zealand Transport Agency initiative in 2014.
The current funding was provided through the Provincial Growth Fund and was for three years, he said.
It would also be rolled out in Timaru, Waimakariri, Westland, Grey and Buller.
Supporting young people to drive improved their chances of employment and the programme aimed to have 50 per cent of drivers in employment after six months.
Those taking part should have basic driving skills already, and needed to meet certain entry criteria, Mr Cain said.
Likely participants would be unemployed, aged anywhere between 16 and 60, and with no access to a vehicle or someone who could train them.
CDMP was about “filling the gaps for disadvantaged young people” and not taking business away from other providers.
He said 25 volunteer driver mentors were needed in Ashburton to support the drivers and they would be trained to be coaches.
Drivers would go out twice a week in supplied automatic cars and would usually take their test in the same car.
The Ashburton programme will be co-ordinated by Heather Daly, who formerly ran the Salvation Army’s employment and education centre in Ashburton.
Mrs Daly will assess completed application forms, hold an initial workshop to explain how things work, and will then liaise with the Ministry of Social Development, employment agencies and businesses to look for possible employment opportunities for graduating drivers.
Drivers are expected to take anywhere between five and 15 weeks to complete the programme.