Save Our Shopmobility!
North Devon's Shopmobility service is at risk of closure. Shopmobilty is a service valued by the many with mobility issues who regularly use the service to travel from their homes into Barnstaple to shop, attend appointments and access the many facilities in Barnstaple town centre.
Go North Devon (GND), who run the Shopmobility service, needs to raise £40,000 to ensure it can continue to provide access to this important service. In addition to the generosity of local and national charitable trusts and corporate sponsors GND in the past have received Local Authority Grant aid. Unfortunately, as the County, District and Town Councils have had their budgets reduced so they have been forced to dramatically reduce these grants and in one case stop the grant aid completely.
GND continues to work hard to raise funds for its service through tombolas, raffles, street collections and book sales however the income from these is insufficient to make up for the reduction in grant aide. The service is at real risk as its diminishing reserves have to be drawn upon each month to keep the service running.
David Netherway, GND Chairman said we have been fortunate to have sufficient reserves to cover a deficit of £11,000 in the first six months of this year but we know we cannot continue this for long as funds are running out. The continued challenge of volunteer recruitment is reflected in our payroll costs we need to maintain our current opening hours and not least because many of our volunteers have individual support needs themselves.
North Devon Shopmobility started in 1997 providing the loan of powered and manual wheelchairs and scooters to anyone with a mobility problem who wished to access Barnstaple town centre and its facilities and is still considered by many to be a local asset. Many of their clients are local residents (some of whom travel into Barnstaple on the Ring & Ride minibus) and a high percentage of those use the wheelchairs and scooters on a regular weekly or fortnightly basis. The remaining clients are holiday visitors who can only take their holidays where such a scheme exists. GND provide the only Shopmobility service in North Devon. For those clients who wish to hire equipment at weekends or for holidays they offer portable equipment as they are closed weekends and Bank Holidays due to continued funding and volunteer constraints. During the past two years they have supported 397 individuals. The service continues to be well used and has seen a significant increase in overnight hires of portable equipment.
With the support of the local community, Shopmobility will continue to provide mobility equipment for clients who without such support wouldnt be able to retain their independence or leave their homes and would soon become isolated.