Southend Council is among just nine other authorities across the country to win a special grant to support sustainable travel initiatives.
This will build on the popular and successful Ideas in Motion scheme which has already helped thousands of families discover other means of reaching their usual destinations without relying on their cars.
Over the past year, the Southend community organisation, Turning Tides has been working with Ideas in Motion to give residents personalised advice with viable alternative ways to travel.
Advisers sit down with residents face-to-face, to discuss bespoke and sustainable routes for their regular journeys, such as from office to home, or from the supermarket to school.
Turning Tides Team leaders Hayley and Lee and their group of volunteers bring with them a wealth of local travel knowledge and innovative solutions.
So far they have already visited nearly 13,000 homes, and thanks to the new grant, now aim to give Personalised Travel Planning advice to around 12,000 households – at least 7,500 people who live along the key A13 public transport corridor connecting Leigh to Southend Town Centre
The Council’s Group Manager for Strategic Transport and Planning Policy, Paul Mathieson said: “We were delighted that the extra funding can help us continue this very successful scheme.
“Residents really value the personalised approach to help them make sustainable travel plans to suit their circumstances. This direct community engagement can also help meet other needs too.
“In one instance, an 81-year-old resident told our doorstep survey team she frequently had to wait longer than expected for a bus as she could not read the timetable at the bus stop. These long waits meant she would often return home without making the journey at all.
“The Travel Planner also told the resident about Turning Tides ‘Safe as Houses’ project which delivers crime prevention advice to Southend residents aged over 60.
“They then arranged a special visit for a team member to work through the bus timetables with her. This has minimised her waiting times for buses, and, armed with a variety of bus timetables, she can now make more frequent journeys around Southend and can venture further if she wishes.
“The following week she received her Safe as Houses home visit as requested, offering security and safety advice.
“A further referral was then made to Essex County Fire & Rescue Service to provide her with free smoke detectors as her existing ones did not work.
She later wrote to us saying: “Thank you for sending that charming young man to advise me about Travel & Safety. It was very interesting and I enjoyed his visit enormously. The timetables are useful, I shan’t have to stand in the wet and cold for too long now.
” I have my purse safely fastened on a chain and a message in a bottle in my fridge.
“The fireman arrived as promised and I now have two smoke alarms. Also, when he learned that I was very deaf, he installed a light beside my bed. I feel very safe now providing I take the precautions I have been advised.
“This has made me feel that I am still a valued member of the community whose needs will be catered for. Again, I thank you very much for all your kindness and attention.”