Kickstart + Jack

How the J P Blanch Fund is kickstarting community interest companies and apprenticeships in Norfolk

Kickstart breaks down barriers to securing or sustaining employment, training or education by hiring out mopeds to individuals at little or no cost.

The rural nature of Norfolk means that a lack of transport is often cited as one of the primary obstacles to participating in work or education. Since being founded in 1996, Kickstart has provided transport to over 9,000 individuals, with over 5,300 going on to secure employment thanks to the scheme. Riders are also put on a communication plan with Kickstart’s Communications Officer and, when relevant, a Jobcentre Employment Advisor to provide ongoing support.

In 2020, Kickstart learnt that their current MOT test provider was retiring. With their large fleet size and location to consider, seeking an alternative provider was neither practical nor cost-efficient. Acting quickly, they sought to secure capital from the J P Blanch fund. A generous grant would allow them to train two staff members to conduct MOT tests, as well as for the construction and equipping of a specialised MOT Testing Bay. This would enable testing to be brought in-house, significantly reducing costs while providing capacity for future income generation and training opportunities.

The Fund was able to fully finance this operation. Both mechanics qualified in September 2020, and by January 2021 the bay had opened and was ready to take care of the 284 fleet vehicles.

A separate fund was also provided for Kickstart to take on an apprentice. Jack was taken on a few years ago and, after being waylaid by the pandemic, was able to complete his apprenticeship in April 2020.

Kickstart’s new MOT bay, funded through the J P Blanch Fund

Jack’s Story

Jack working on a moped in Kickstart's garage
Jack working on one of Kickstart’s mopeds

‘Leaving school was a daunting prospect as I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I saw an advert for an Apprenticeship in Motorcycle Engineering at Kickstart which was based in my hometown. I applied and was successful in securing the Apprenticeship. My Apprenticeship was a day release to college with Poultec and four days working at Kickstart. I have enjoyed both parts of this Apprenticeship and have worked hard over the last three years. I was so pleased when leading up to the end of my Apprenticeship, Kickstart offered me a job as a Junior Technician which I gladly accepted and I am now at work really enjoying my new job. I am also very grateful to the J P Blanch Fund for assisting me and Kickstart with funding to enable me to complete my Apprenticeship. I am looking forward to the next few years as I will be trained to become an MOT tester and also to become a mobile technician’.

Jack, Kickstart Mechanic
About the J P Blanch Fund

Since its launch in 2010, the fund has provided dozens of apprenticeship and engineering opportunities across the county. In 2019 the JP Blanch Grassroots Fund approved grants of nearly £50,000 to applicants from Norfolk.