Before being diagnosed with chronic fatigue, I had never heard of Shopmobility. I’d seen people riding through town centres on mobility scooters but had simply assumed they’d come from home on them. I certainly didn’t know how you went about getting hold of one if you needed it.
I certainly didn’t know that Shopmobility schemes are everywhere, they’re so friendly and they make it easier for you to get around when shopping! Result!
What is Shopmobility?
Shopmobility is effectively a mobility scooter hire scheme, providing battery powered mobility scooters and manual wheelchairs for hire to those with reduced mobility. Not just for those registered disabled or in receipt of a blue badge, the scheme allows anyone to hire mobility scooters to allow them to access the shops and services in all the main town centres. There are 300 of these schemes around the UK, all with the same aim.
The scheme is staffed by volunteers. Some require a membership fee or a small cost for hiring the scooter or wheelchair but this cost is minimal. You don’t have to be registered disabled or even hold a blue badge, but if you are in need of mobility aids, I very much recommend applying for a blue badge to allow you to park closer to your destination when you are out and about. (More on this later).
Shopmobility schemes operate out of car parks, generally with plenty of disabled parking spaces outside to allow you to park close by. While you don’t need a blue badge to access the Shopmobility services, it makes life an awful lot easier owning a blue badge and specifically, allows you to park next door to Shopmobility.
Each Shopmobility scheme has a different sign up arrangement so you will need to register with each separate area. If you will be hiring mobility scooters, you will need a mini “driving test”. This simply involves learning how to go forwards and backwards and how to turn. No need to prove your ability to do a 3-point turn or parallel park (although turning skills are important to master once inside shops)!
Once you are signed up, you will be able to turn up on future occasions, ask for a mobility scooter (or manual wheelchair) and it’s then hired out to you.
Shopmobility Locations in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire
(To find your nearest Shopmobility service, click here )
Citipark Church Car Park, Exchange Road, Watford, WD18 0BU
NCP Drovers Way Car Park, Drovers Way, St Albans, AL3 5EB
Unit 53A, The Howard Centre, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6HA
132 Market Square, Stevenage SG1 1DN
Level 3 Market Car Park, The Mall Luton, LU1 2LJ
Mobility Hub, Bedford Bus Station, MK40 1QA
British Red Cross Wheelchair Hire
The British Red Cross hire out wheelchairs, as well as the full range of mobility aids, for short- and long-term use, for a small fee. Mobility aids they hire out include walking sticks, crutches and rollators. They are a charity so rely on donations to keep the service running.
Blue Badge Scheme
Contrary to popular belief, the blue badge scheme is not just for those in wheelchairs. The scheme is there for people to be able to park closer to their destination, as well as giving them extra room either side of the car to manoeuvre. Applications for a blue badge go through your local council and take up to 6 weeks to receive.
Mine has been an absolute life saver. No longer do I have to drive round and round a car park for ages waiting for a space near to the building, especially when having a “low spoons” day. On days like that, just getting out the house is an achievement so the blue badge allows you to park close to wherever you’re going.
Also, you can park on single and double yellow lines for up to 3 hours providing you display your timer that comes with the blue badge!
NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPCs)
A single NHS prescription costs £8.80. If you’re like me and are on 6 different medications (not including the need for antibiotics and steroid tablets for flare ups, plus the cost of inhaler spacers), that’s over £50 each time I need to renew them (every 6-8 weeks)!
The NHS have a pre-payment certificate scheme that allows you to pay £29.10 for 3 months or £102 for 12 months. You pay that amount up front, print off your certificate number, then all your prescriptions for that period of time are covered. Result!
There may be ways you can get financial help with your prescription costs however.
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