Peoplehood project set to improve connectivity with Enterprise e-cars

Simon Fitzpatrick (Development and Commercial Director of Blackwood)

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AN EXCITING initiative to help people live longer and happier is being unveiled in Buckie – with affordable access to electric cars just one of the perks on offer.

The official launch of the £12.5 million Blackwood Peoplehood Project is being timed to coincide with the town’s annual Classic Car Show.

Peoplehood aims to positively transform life for people in three very different Scottish communities – with Buckie being the most rural and therefore facing the biggest connectivity challenges.

The three-year initiative to develop a neighbourhood-based model for independent living will help people live healthier, happier and longer. It will create a blueprint for welcoming places with age-friendly homes, supported by cutting-edge technologies and safe outdoor spaces for physical activities.

The funding will see each area benefit from free tablet PCs and Wi-Fi for participants to get digitally connected, while also delivering e-bikes, electric cars and a host of equipment and activities within neighbourhoods, all according to demand.

Simon Fitzpatrick, Development and Commercial Director of Blackwood, which is leading the pioneering project, said: “Rural communities face a range of challenges associated with accessibility and connectivity. The E-car scheme is just one part of how we are hoping to help improve transport infrastructure in Buckie, as we will also be rolling out e-bike and trikes.” 

“We’re really excited to roll out the programme and delighted to have Enterprise Car Club and other industry partners on board. Anyone, regardless of background or financial status, can use the service. Our hope is that this will offer a new means of connectivity to open up the area, which for some people can feel inaccessible.”

The partnership with Enterprise will see two e-cars made available in Buckie, improving connectivity while also taking away the financial burden of owning a vehicle.

Murray McAdam, Regional Sales Manager at Enterprise, said: “By signing up to the Peoplehood project, participants will be able to book and access the e-cars via our easy to use app.”

“You can book for as long as you want it and that’s all you will pay for – rather than all of the additional costs that come with owning a car.”

“As well as access to the cars in their neighbourhood residents will also be able to use any of the 1,400 Enterprise Car Club vehicles around the UK, giving them easy and affordable access to low cost and low emission vehicles if they are travelling away from home.”

Enterprise believes shared use of vehicles will enable the ageing population to have access to a range of mobility options while keeping individuals mobile and active within the community.

The launch will be held at the annual Classic Car Show on August 28. Activities will include games and competitions as well as stalls explaining what Peoplehood is and how it will help shape the future of independent living in Buckie. 

A vital element of Peoplehood is that a 1000-strong local member taskforce will lead the transformation of the three communities. People who sign up not only get access to tablets, e-cars and free WiFi – they also help shape the entire project.

Simon Fitzpatrick added: “The most exciting part of Peoplehood is that each neighbourhood decides what it wants and how it should look. Co-design is at the very heart of this. We won’t turn up and tell people what we think they want, instead we are here to listen.”

“The more people who sign up, the better and better it gets. That way the people in the neighbourhoods get the equipment, activities and initiatives that will bring the most benefit, whether that is a bike library, a gardening class or outdoor gym equipment.”

The Peoplehood Project received £6 million UK Research and Innovation funding as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund/Healthy Ageing Challenge – the only project in Scotland to win funding – with a further £6.5 million from Blackwood and its nine industry partners.

Detailed research identified the three most suitable Peoplehood locations. Charleston in Dundee was chosen because it already has a high number of specialist Blackwood Homes. Cardonald in Glasgow is best suited to explore the development of an integrated community, while Buckie, situated between Banff and Elgin, presents learning opportunities around its rural location, public transport and WiFi accessibility.

The nine partner organisations working with Blackwood on Peoplehood are:  University of Edinburgh; Canon Medical Research Europe; Carebuilder UK; CENSIS; Cisco International Ltd; Enterprise Rent-a-Car UK; Lewis & Hickey Architects; Mydex CIC and The DataLab.

Blackwood pioneers technology innovation in the social housing sector. It operates more than 1500 properties across 29 local authorities. The charity has already built two developments of tech-smart ‘Blackwood Homes’ in Glasgow and Dundee which use a “CleverCogs” digital system to make life easier for older people and people with disabilities.

People looking to join can find more information at www.blackwoodgroup.org.uk/peoplehood or by messaging: getinvolved@blackwoodgroup.org.uk

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