The aim of the project is to help enable the learning of disadvantaged young people in the Kingston and Richmond boroughs, who may be interested in a career in engineering. The project will be permanently set up on a discontinued “33 route” single-decker bus, which has been stripped out and refurbished in order to create a safe, engaging space for young people to learn hands-on engineering skills.
The bus was parked in Kingston-upon-Thames town centre, in the vicinity of the War Memorial and Accessorize. RatpDev Foundation senior members of staff from Paris were in attendance, alongside Achieving for Children and Transport for London.
The idea of ‘Open Chances’ was formed by AfC member of staff, Rick Daultry, who had been working with youth offenders who had committed an offence on a bus. As part of the youth offenders rehabilitation, Rick facilitated a visit to a bus depot with a former AfC volunteer whose husband worked for RatpDev in Tolworth. They suggested coming down to the depot to help clean the buses. Whilst there, the youths involved became fascinated by the ins and outs of how a bus depot ran, with one of the young people then applying for and successfully securing an engineering apprenticeship with RatpDev.
Rick spotted a unique opportunity to run a shadowing programme at the depot, applying for an award with RatpDev, which AfC won, and procuring a grant to continue teaching disadvantaged youths engineering skills.
RatpDev then donated a bus in January 2020 which was subsequently gutted and refurbished, with the aim of giving young people access to learning in an environment that will put them at ease. Many of the young people were apprehensive about travelling across postcodes, so mobilising the facilities to travel to them in a space they felt comfortable was integral to ensuring their safety and peace of mind.
The project targets young people who are at risk of offending, non-school attendees or young people who don't have access to a space where they can practice these types of skills. With a focus on teaching basic engineering and dexterity of using tools, the project is designed to provide them with the confidence they need in order to go onto college/further education or even take up an apprenticeship, specialising in the subject.