Trustees report, April 2019
SHOPMOBILITY, ST HELIER
With little knowledge at that time of whom it would attract as users we started with 10 powered chairs and scooters and 6 manual chairs. We expected to have a number of mainly local people come to our base in the Sand Street Car Park perhaps to go shopping or visit locations in Town and return the equipment to us at the end of the day.
Within a few weeks our expectations had changed as we soon had visitors to the Island asking for scooters and wheelchairs to assist them with mobility during their holidays and we had a growing number of requests to deliver the equipment to their hotels in advance of their arrival. This activity has since grown and grown. Locals still use our services for a variety of purposes but the “visitor trade” is now a significant proportion of our activity.
So with steady growth in demand from all areas over the years we now have increased our resources to offer more than 250 items ranging from mobility scooters, power chairs, tri- and quad-walkers (rollators), shower stools, Zimmer frames, commodes, wall grips and much more. Amongst the latest items added to our “range” are self-folding scooters which have proved very popular especially with visitors as they can easily be placed in the rear of vehicles. Although these cost us more than twice the price of the normal transportable scooters, in an effort to boost the mobility of as many people as possible we hire these out at the same rate as the other equipment as part of the service.
In addition, over the years, we have become the hub of information on a whole variety of issues and queries surrounding mobility for Visit Jersey, Tour Operators, Hotels, Visitors to the Island and indeed local people. These queries extend far beyond mobility aids to encompass things like the rules for blue badge parking, which hotels are suitable for disabled people, and more mundane assistance as a result of our location in Sand St Car Park such as can we unlock an electric car when the keys have been left in the boot, can we get fuel for a car that has run out, can we start a vehicle when the battery has gone flat, can you repair our equipment etc.? This is only a small representation of what we regularly have to deal with.
Saturdays are especially busy for us as we assist disabled parkers and others not using our equipment with all sorts of queries due to the Parking Control Office on the floor above us being closed.
In an effort to provide as “good” a service as possible led by the efforts of our volunteer Chairman Edward Trevor our telephone contact is normally available 24/7 being transferred to another line when we are not open. We have even had a call on a Christmas Day for a scooter and on a Boxing Day for a manual chair from people in distress, which were able to accommodate. It is also the case that although we are officially closed on Sundays as we as a Charity that exists with limited paid staff (one full-time and one part-time) supplemented by a small number of volunteers we cannot justify a seven day a week service we still get certain hotels ring with clients requests who have not pre-booked and had equipment delivered in preparation for their arrival virtually demanding what they want is delivered immediately over weekends. This of course is quite unreasonable but again whenever possible Edward accommodates it if he can. We try to encourage people, most of whom book their holiday months in advance, to set up their requirements in good time and through our delivery and payment system the necessary equipment is awaiting them on arrival and is collected after their departure and they never have to visit our base. The occasional visitor who is disabled when booking but come here without the necessary aids then discovers what we can provide and then contacts us, often through their hotel, for immediate assistance which creates us problems which does distort our Chairman’s family life from time to time. This is however only a part of the exceptional service that is offered to our client base by the Charity.
In case there is any doubt as to our location for locals and visitors to the Island who have access to transport we are located in the lower ground floor of Sand St Car Park approached via the first entrance marked Disabled Parking and Shopmobility and we have our own parking spaces reserved free, solely for our users and unlike normal disabled parkers we don’t have the 3 hour time limit. We can of course be visited by ramp at the rear of the Car Park by those on foot or using a scooter etc. The “office” is open from 10am until 4pm daily (Mon – Sat) and as previously indicated delivery by arrangement is available.
Let us hope we can continue to build the range of offering we have and continue to assist with mobility and other aids into the extended future.
Shopmobility April 2019