Disabled shopping charity begs for help

Gary Jorden and Juliet Prodger are both regular users of Shopmobility in St Albans.

Gary Jorden and Juliet Prodger are both regular users of Shopmobility in St Albans. - Credit: Jess Unwin

A charity is searching for funding and volunteers to ensure it can continue to help disabled people go shopping in St Albans.

Shopmobility, first started in 1999, provides manual wheelchairs and battery-powered mobility scooters for disabled shoppers visiting the city centre, but also to anyone in the community who might need them.

The charity’s office and storage facilities at Drovers Way Car Park are provided by St Albans district council but additional local authority funding of up to £10,000 a year was cut in 2019.

Shopmobility is run day-to-day by a small group of trustees, volunteers and one part-time paid manager, with most of the charity’s costs covered by a small rental fee for wheelchairs, plus donations and raffles.

However, finding funding is a constant challenge – as is recruiting new volunteers and trustees to help the existing dwindling number of stalwarts who run operations.

A Shopmobility spokesman said: “We are constantly looking for people and local businesses to support us. Anyone with a permanent or temporary disability is warmly welcomed to use our service and we want to be able to go on providing that service.”

And a regular user of the Shopmobility service added: “With my mobility challenges, it’s great to know that there’s a wheelchair and scooter service that means I can still leave my house and get out and about – whether that’s to do essential shopping or just meet up with family and friends.”

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Shopmobility’s office can be found on the ground floor of Drovers Way Car Park, Drovers Way, St Albans. Its opening hours are 10am-2pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 9.30am- 4pm on Wednesday and Saturday. The office will stay open until 4.30pm on Christmas Eve.

Electric scooter and wheelchair hire is free on a daily basis during those office opening hours. Longer-term wheelchair hire is available for £1 per day.

For more information you can call on 01727 819339, email stalbansshopmobility@hotmail.co.uk or visit the website at www.stalbansshopmobility.com. The charity welcomes volunteers of all abilities.