Young people leaving care in Wolverhampton have been given Swift cards with free access to public transport and council gyms.
The pilot scheme has seen 30 youngsters who have recently left the council’s care system handed the cards giving them free bus, train and tram travel within the West Midlands for 12 weeks.
Also, in a first, these special Swift travel cards can also be used to access the local WV Active gyms and leisure centres.
The scheme has been created by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and the City of Wolverhampton Council.
It is designed to help vulnerable young people as they adjust to their new lives, and is part of the wider range of services the City of Wolverhampton Council offers to care leavers.
In particular it means they do not need to pay to travel to job, training or education opportunities.
Care leavers are young people, aged 16 or above, who have spent time in foster or residential care and are now moving towards adulthood and independence.
In Wolverhampton, they already have free membership of the council’s WV Active scheme and access to three local leisure centres. Now that membership is combined with the Swift card, they only have to tap their card to gain admission.
For TfWM, the scheme demonstrates the versatility of the Swift card technology – it can be used for gym membership as well as to board a bus or train.
Laura Shoaf, managing director of TfWM, said: “The Swift card is a simple way for us to support care leavers as they begin to build their new lives and can be used to get to work or college, appointments, essential shopping or simply for a day out.
“This pilot with Wolverhampton council also gives us the opportunity to show that Swift technology is adaptable. We are always willing to work with partners to find new and innovative ways to use this technology.”
Emma Bennett, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s director of children’s services, said: “We want to make the transition from childhood to adulthood as smooth and easy as possible, and we have worked closely with partner agencies to maximise the support which is available to care leavers through our local offer.
"We are delighted to give them free access to the council’s three leisure centres – WV Active Central, WV Active Aldersley and WV Active Bilston-Bert Williams – and to be working with Transport for West Midlands in this innovative way.”