A foundation that was set up following the tragic murder of a 10-year-old Nottinghamshire girl is championing a campaign to recruit female taxi drivers – it is a bid to empower women in the workforce.
Rosie May Foundation’s Think Pink campaign has partnered with DG Cars and Western Cars to increase the number of women taxi drivers in the Nottingham and Derby region.
Currently, women make up less than 2% of taxi drivers in the UK.
Mary Storrie, co-founder of the Rosie May Foundation, said: “This project has been two years in the making. We partnered with DG Cars and Western Cars a year ago. At that time, they had just one female driver among the 1,400 self-employed drivers working for the firm. “
The project is now becoming a driving force in female recruitment into the industry.
Some 20 new women taxi drivers have already signed up with the Think Pink scheme.
Rosie May Foundation was set up in January 2004 following the murder of Rosie May who was killed in December 2003 by a 17-year-old boy she knew.
In response to public support and donations at the time, the foundation was set up with funds going to Sheffield Paediatric Intensive Care Unit.
Since then, the not-for-profit foundation has grown internationally after the family, seeking solace after their daughter's death, holidayed in Sri Lanka the Christmas following Rosie May’s death. It was the year a devastating Tsunami hit the country. However, a palm planted in memory of their daughter survived and inspired a series of fund-raising projects in the country including a female driver project. The UK Think Pink project stems from this initiative.
Mary said: “We first began the driver project in Sri Lanka in 2016 following a UN report that found that 90% of women had suffered some form of sexual harassment while using public transport. We wanted to champion safer journeys and economically empower women. A fleet of 10 women driven tuk tuks now operates in Sri Lanka.”
She continued: “There are many parallels between the UK driver campaign and this project.
“As well as empowering and supporting women, we want to educate them to realise that driving is a career that can provide flexibility, especially if they have domestic responsibilities that restrict their conventional full time working hours.”
Previously DG’s only female driver, Kim Blagen has been driving for the firm for 15 years. She will now support and mentor new drivers as well as continuing to drive herself.
As Baljit, one of the new drivers explained, flexibility is a key driver for the role. She said: “I can choose my working hours, which means I can spend more time with my children and still earn money to manage my household bills.
“From the bottom of my heart I am very happy to be part of the lovely Think Pink team who have helped me start a new job as a private hire driver.”
Another driver, Sapheena, added: “I returned to work after 28 years and now I have achieved 1000 hires!“
With a general shortage of taxi drivers since the pandemic, Mary added that training new taxi drivers was fast becoming a success story that long term, she hoped to roll out nationally.
“We have initially partnered with DG cars, based in my hometown, which has the largest fleet of drivers in the East Midlands, but the aim is to eventually expand the scheme” she said.
“Taxi driving covers all sorts of journeys from school transport to hospital appointments. We help recruits who match the criteria to attain their taxi driving license through the DG Academy and Think Pink scheme.”
Those signing up will be self-employed, but the scheme provides backup to enable this move. Drivers will need a clean driving licence and DBS check, they can use their own car or, if full time, can use one of DG’s Cars.
Interested drivers can get in touch to find out more by calling Think Pink on 07470 512589, through the website Think Pink (thinkpinkdrivers.uk) or through their Facebook page.