Saturday, 8 March 2014

A Fresh Approach

Shopmobility is going mobile and wants your opinion

For almost 20 years, Shopmobility Aberdeen was right at the heart of the main retail area of the city in Flourmill Lane.  This site was no longer available to us at the end of 2011 and we had to move our operation to our Union Square office.  The base at Union Square is a pleasant, comfortable and modern building  but it is too far from Union Street, Bon Accord, St Nicholas and the Trinity shopping centres to be convenient for many of our service users.  

Belfast Shopmobility
We at Shopmobility Aberdeen have been actively looking at ways we might resolve this for the benefit of our existing customers, attract new people to our services and have a brand new resource for the city, so the idea to create a Mobile Shopmobility Unit was born.

In addition, to serving the north side of Union Street, there are many local shopping and leisure facilities situated in the various suburbs of Aberdeen. The Mobile Shopmobility Unit would ensure that people with barriers to their mobility living in these communities could use these facilities to their full.  The Mobile Shopmobility Unit could also be used to provide access to parks, gardens and entertainment venues etc.  Whilst organisers of such events usually make every effort to make their events accessible to everyone, the topography of Aberdeen often hinders mobility and inclusion at them e.g. the international market, the New Year party, Highland Games.  The Mobile Shopmobility Unit has the potential to increase the access to public events and gatherings by providing the equipment necessary to combat the inclines and distances which regularly make accessing such events very difficult.

Hong Kong Library
The Mobile Shopmobility Unit would be a vehicle which contains everything needed to offer Shopmobility Aberdeen services to people in their local area and in the city centre.
It would transport mobility equipment, information and volunteers to where they are needed. The Mobile Shopmobility Unit would be accessible to members of the public wishing to use the services it provides.  There would be a welfare area and a toilet on board so that people who use the scheme can have somewhere safe, comfortable and warm to be whilst they complete paperwork, get further information, or just sit and have a chat with our staff.  We are very aware that for many of our service users their visit to Shopmobility is the only social interaction they may have from week to week and that this vital part of our service must be protected and offered in everything we do.

Anyone living, working or visiting Aberdeen will be welcome to use the Shopmobility Mobile Unit. It will be available to anyone who is experiencing mobility problems whether temporary or permanent.  This enables people who are recovering from accidents, injury etc to maintain their lifestyles and it will afford increased independence and choice to those who have a permanent mobility impairment. The Shopmobility Mobile Unit will also be able to act as a meeting point for volunteers  from our Sustainable Connections Transport Team (SCOTT)and their clients, please see previous post for details of the SCOTT service.

In order to make the most of this vehicles potential, it could have alternative purposes when not in use by Shopmobility Aberdeen or whilst at special events. By removing the mobility equipment from the vehicle in the evening, it could then be used by the street pastors as a warm refuge for city centre revellers. Because it will be fitted with a toilet and a welfare area it could serve as a first aid station and because of its size would make an ideal place for lost children to go to should they become separated from their parents or carers etc. Whilst Shopmobility Aberdeen may not be in a position to staff this sort of activity initially, the offer of the vehicle could be made to other organisations who may wish to use it for their own purposes. This multi-use adaptability could be offered, for a fee, to other groups, businesses and organisations for use at social gatherings, open days, events etc.

We would love to hear your ideas about this project, where you would like to see it, how you imagine others using it etc.  
Stirling Library

All photographs are for illustration only and are not the property of Shopmobility Aberdeen 

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