“ Mobility Services provided for thoses with a permanent or temporary disability to get around the shops and use the other facilities of the city centre of Manchester. „
Mobile - Not the sort you hang above a child's bed......
~ I need help! ~
I've made reference on other reviews that I suffer with arthritis. This means that I'm now struggling to walk any distance, and often use sticks to go out. However, I was due to go out to the Arndale Centre (see my separate review) and knew that I was going to need more than just my sticks. I saw on the web site they had a shopmobility, and so bit the bullet, swallowed the pride and phoned them up to see what they could do to help. This is my resulting review.
~ So who are Shopmobility Manchester? ~
Shop Mobility is throughout the UK in various towns and cities, or in some cases, out of town shopping centres. Each are designed to help people with mobility issues, and while they are all independently run (and so some features may vary slightly place to place) they are in the process of regulating certain aspects throughout the UK.
Manchesters Shop Mobility is based in the Arndale centre, and is fairly typical of what you can expect to find. Shop Mobility is set up with the aim to help anyone who has a permanent or even temporary disability, and find it hard to get around without use of a scooter or wheelchair. This means if you break a leg and find yourself in plaster, you can also use the facilities.
They provide electric powered scooters, electric powered wheelchairs, and also manual wheelchairs. If staffing levels allow, they can also help people who might simply need help while shopping, and they also ensure you are given a 'test' on the scooters and wheelchairs (more about this later) before letting you out on your own.
You are able to use the scooters/wheelchairs in the whole of the Manchester City centre, not just within the confines of the Arndale Centre, where they are based.
Hire of the scooters/chairs is free.
~ So how do I go about it? ~
First of all, you need to give them a call to arrange an initial sign up procedure before you arrive at the centre. They say to allow around 30 minutes in total to go through this, and explain what you need to do before you arrive. You will be asked to bring two forms of ID, including one with your home address on, and they do hold on to the ID as security so you don't do a runner with their equipment. You will not be asked for any money at any stage.
Their information is easily found either on their web site (address given at the end) or on the Arndale Centre web site.
I phoned up about 5 days before we were due to go in, and found they answered the phones quickly and were efficient about explaining what I needed to do (and bring), as well as explaining that I needed to allow some time on the first visit to take a scooter (which is what I needed) for a 'test' drive before they let me loose around Manchester on it. They also gave me instructions on how to park and then use the ticket to have the parking paid for (having a blue badge does not automatically mean you get free parking using the NCP car park next to the centre. This is to protect against fraudulent use of the Blue Badge scheme - a big thumbs up because it is a real bugbear of mine!)
Following the directions they gave, we found the office without too much difficultly (although it is 'hidden' down a long corridor away from the rest of the centre).
I arrived, and if I were to give the slightest complaint - it would be they couldn't find the information I had left when I first phoned, and it appeared the person who had taken the phone call wasn't about. But it didn't really hold proceedings up at all, and fortunately they had plenty of scooters available that day (It might have been a different situation had they been very busy).
I was taken through the paperwork quickly, and then given a 'test' run through some cones they set up in the office area. Once they knew I was okay taking the scooter through the cones, and reversing it (fortunately I've driven most things in my time so this wasn't at all daunting) they took me out to the main centre, and we went through procedures including how to use the lifts, and we also went outside and how to approach pavements etc. A good 15 minutes was spent taking their time through the whole thing, and I felt they did an excellent job overall.
I was also told that they would be sending me a card through the post to keep on me, and just produce either at their shop mobility, or if needed, I could use it to show at other shop mobility offices to prove I know (supposedly!) what I am doing. As mentioned, they are now beginning to regulate and standardise what Shop Mobility offices do throughout the country (they never used to) allowing easier use of facilities around the country, as you need them. The card is therefore a must if you don't want to have to go through the same routine each time you want to use a shop mobility centre elsewhere.
~ So off I scoot ~
Once back at the office, I was given the all clear, and allowed out on my own (well, my partner and I, plus my sister was with me). It made the world of difference, and as usual I began to wonder why on earth I had taken sooooo long before using the services Shop Mobility provide - But there is no doubt it is a major help if you struggle to walk far as I do now.
Taking the scooter back was also easy to do, and apart from picking up my ID, took minutes to sort out, having actually enjoyed a shopping trip, which I haven't been able to do for a very long time.
~ Overall ~
A must if you find that you struggle with mobility. As I've mentioned, they also cater for those who might only have a temporary mobility problem (I saw someone with their leg in plaster scooting about the centre while I was there), so I would urge anyone who finds walking difficult to look at using a shop mobility centre if there is one where you might be going.
Apart from the slight problem with losing my initial information, I find it hard to mark them down a star for it, because everything else was done with such ease and efficiency, even thought I know on another day it might have caused a little more of a problem. So top marks from me.
~ Where to find out more about them ~
If you want to find out more, they have an excellent web site, which you can find at: