History Of Shopmobility
National Federation Of Shopmobility
The concept of Shopmobility originated in the 1970’s with the first scheme opening in Milton Keynes in 1979. There are now over 350 schemes nationwide with the majority being self-funding and run as a registered charity, supported by the local authority or a commercial organisation such as the shopping centre.
The National Federation of Shopmobility (NFSUK) was founded in 1990 with the aim of encouraging the development of a Shopmobility network throughout the United Kingdom. NFSUK is a member organisation that supports existing Shopmobility schemes and helps new schemes to set up. To find out more about the National Federation Of Shopmobility visit www.nfsuk.org
The need for a Shopmobility scheme in Staines was highlighted in a 1993 study of accessible transport that was commissioned by the Spelthorne Committee for Access Now (SCAN). The study concluded that people with limited mobility were unable to take advantage of shopping facilities and other services in Staines town centre.
Staines Shopmobility was set up to alleviate this need and to support the welfare and independence of disabled people. A steering committee was formed and Staines Shopmobility was formally opened as an independent registered charity in 1998. This was achieved with the support of Spelthorne Borough Council, West Surrey Health Authority and the owners of the Two Rivers development.
The charity enables people with limited mobility to independently access shops, banks, opticians, libraries and social / recreational facilities within the town of Staines. This promotes an equality of opportunity and community involvement amongst the beneficiary group. The service also improves confidence, health and mental welfare amongst service users who would otherwise be left isolated from the community and dependent on others to shop and access services for them.
Staines town centre has developed over a large area from its original size, which centred on the High Street, increasing the distances between shops, banks and other services. The High Street is now pedestrianised and the car parks are located on the periphery of the town, making the town inaccessible to many disabled people. People with limited mobility can access the town by car, public transport and accessible transport schemes but are unable to move around freely without access to mobility equipment. The Shopmobility service compliments local accessible transport schemes by providing beneficiaries with outdoor mobility aids upon their arrival in Staines. This fills the gap in service originally identified by SCAN and in several reports since.
Staines Shopmobility supports the Spelthorne Community Plan 2005-2015 aim “To make Spelthorne a safe, healthy, inclusive, prosperous and sustainable community”. The charity’s work supports many of the issues identified by the plan including ‘Getting Around Spelthorne’, ‘Healthy Spelthorne’ and ‘Thriving Spelthorne’. Additionally the charity supports the local authority’s commitment to tackling social exclusion and compliments local accessible transport schemes
- Assists disabled people to participate independently in shopping, leisure and other activities in Staines.
- Promotes an environment that is healthy, safe and inclusive.
- Improves respite for parent / carers.
- Enables access to social and recreational facilities for disabled people.
- Provides outdoor aids for people with restricted mobility.
- Reduces isolation and loneliness, a contributing factor to ill health.
- Enables independence, well-being and choice.
- Promotes equality and diversity.
Staines Shopmobility supports the Disability Equality Duty and the Equality Act 2010 by providing an equality of opportunity for disabled people visiting Staines.
Having a Shopmobility service in Staines ensures the town is accessible to all visitors, making it more appealing to those with limited mobility. This helps maintain Staines as a destination of choice for residents of Spelthorne and many surrounding boroughs, where there are no similar schemes. Without Shopmobility, many people with limited mobility would be unable to carry out everyday tasks such as shopping and would have to visit another town with a Shopmobility scheme, if logistically possible. The charity provides the last link in the transport chain and offers people with limited mobility the only viable access to the town.
Staines Shopmobility links with the following organisations that also aim to improve services and conditions for elderly or disabled people:
- Spelthorne Physical, Sensory and Cognitive Disabilities Forum
- Spelthorne Committee For Action Now