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Upskilling...Southern Reap Eastern Southland Drive My Life programme unlicensed driver Morgan Gibbs (left) is grateful for the opportunity to prepare for achieving his driver's licence with mentor Paul Holmes. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

Unlicensed drivers are reaping the benefits of a programme aimed to help them gain confidence behind the wheel so they can achieve their full licence.

The Drive My Life pilot programme started in Gore at the end of 2018.

The programme is a project developed in Invercargill by Road Safety Southland, the Accident Compensation Commission and New Zealand Police, which helps people who do not have the resources to learn to drive achieve a full licence.

Southern Reap is now a partner in this community-led development which is funded by Hokonui Huanui, Community Trust South, Road Safety Southland and the Lotteries Commission.

Southern Reap Eastern Southland Drive My Life co-ordinator Jonelle McDowall said there had been a great response, with 70 people taking part in the various stages of the programme so far.

It was “awesome see all the individuals grow by getting their licences,” Mrs McDowall said.

The unlicensed drivers aged in range from 16 to 40-year-olds and about 60% of those taking part were men.

The three-stage programme involved helping people pass the theory part of getting a licence; being supervised by a mentor until the driver was ready to pass the restricted stage; then driving with a mentor again until competent to gain a full licence.

Drive My Life facilitator Corey Millan supervised the eight volunteer mentors who worked with the unlicensed drivers and also tutored the learner licence class.

Morgan Gibbs of Gore was one of the first to take part in the programme.

Mr Gibbs said he was very grateful for the programme as he had not had the opportunity to learn to drive while at school.

“Driving is a very important part of your life,” Mr Gibbs said.

“It really opens up opportunities for a lot of work, especially when you’re starting out.”

Driving mentor Paul Holmes has enjoyed being able to pass on his knowledge to others.

“I want to see safer drivers on the road,” Mr Holmes said.

The unlicensed drivers he had worked with had some knowledge of driving.

“It’s just pointing out a few of the tips I can help them with.”

Teaching people to be alert as they drove was important, he said.

“That’s one thing I stress- be aware of everything that is going on around you.”

He remembered when he passed his own driving test.

“It was just the greatest day.

“It’s a great feeling.

Having a licence took some of the stress of driving away.

“When you’ve got your licence you’re not worried about getting pulled over.

“It is such a confidence booster to be legal on the road.”