Plymouth Citybus has won the highest honour that can be bestowed on a company after receiving praise for helping disadvantaged people get into a job.
The company, which employs 561 people in the city, has received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. It was honoured in the Promoting Opportunity category for its work assisting the “most vulnerable and disadvantaged” find employment.
As the firm put it: “Plymouth Citybus doesn’t just help people get from A to B. It helps people move through life.”
It was also rewarded for its groundbreaking work to help disadvantaged people get to their place of employment and for providing services that would otherwise have been scrapped when subsidies were removed.
Richard Stevens, managing director of Plymouth Citybus and Go South West, said: "We are over the moon to have not only been shortlisted for a Queen’s Award, but go on and win one for social mobility.
“It is a huge honour and really goes to show the amount of pride each and every member of the team takes in providing a valuable service.
“I am extremely proud that Plymouth Citybus and Go Cornwall Bus (a sister company) again punch above its weight and achieve something that is truly remarkable. We will soon be putting plans in place of how we celebrate this with all.”
Plymouth Citybus' Social Mobility programme, thought to be the only one of its kind run by a bus company in the UK, is designed to give city people from disadvantaged backgrounds an equal chance to do well.
Its aim is to help people who feel marginalised by a lack of opportunities - including young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, disabled residents, those from ethnic minorities and women – to find jobs and education.
The company works with people in long-term unemployment to guide them through the process of getting into a job through using the firm’s Work Academy in partnership with City College Plymouth and the Department for Work and Pensions.
It has helped 50 long-term unemployed people go on to attain jobs at Citybus or with other companies.
The firm also ensures equal opportunities for progression at Citybus, and wants to employ more women drivers, aiming at a figure of 20% of all drivers, and drivers from ethnic minority backgrounds and is a leader in Plymouth on equal opportunities, successfully closing the gender pay gap.