Whilst Shopmobility and Dial & Ride are great services which are really useful to some people, we’re concerned that they’re being talked about as an alternative to Blue Badge access to the city centre. So we wanted to discuss why they aren’t right for everyone.
What is Shopmobility?
Shopmobility is a scheme which helps people who have difficulty with their mobility. They can help visitors to York to enjoy the shopping and other facilities in the city centre by loaning specialist equipment, such as manual wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs and powered mobility scooters.
In York it is based on the 2nd floor of Piccadillly multistory car park and are open Thursday to Saturday, 10am till 4pm.
There are options for temporary membership or annual membership with the cost of rental ranging from £4 to £19 a day.
And why isn’t it a good option for everyone?
Many disabled people have their own wheelchairs that have been customised to their particular bodies and their particular needs. In fact ‘off the shelf’ wheelchairs can cause damage and injury to disabled people. You have to get to them and there’s many reasons why multistory car parks don’t work for Blue Badge holders which we’ll get into in a later blog post.
As we’ve mentioned above, there are limited opening hours and there is a cost to pay, both financially and physically (i.e. the damage on our bodies).
Dial & Ride
What is Dial & Ride?
Dial & Ride is York’s bus service which takes over where public transport stops providing travel options for York residents who are elderly or disabled and have no other means of travelling. They offer a door-to-door service taking you from your home to major supermarkets and shopping centres such as Monks Cross, Clifton Moor, and Foss Island Road.
If you have a bus pass, it’s £3.30 for a return journey or £1.70 for a single journey. Without a bus pass, it’s £6 and £3 respectively.
And why isn’t it a good option for everyone?
Dial & Ride has limited places and so it needs to be booked at least 24 hours in advance and has a cost involved as we mentioned. It has limited destinations which don’t currently include the city centre, and it requires you to be available at specific times on specific dates which vary depending on where you live. Whilst it is door to door in one sense, between your home and the destination, they pick up various other people so it’s not direct.
A guarenteed 1½ hours at the destination can both be very limiting, but also may be too long if you’re waiting in bad weather. This also doesn’t allow for any spontineity when you are at your destination. Further, being tied to the timetable and needing to book in advance doesn’t allow for spontaneous trips.
Some disabled people have unpredicatable health and may not be able to predict when would be a good day to go somewhere, or you may book and then find you’re unable to attend. Further, some disabled people have specific needs which the driver may not be able to meet. Similarly, wheelchairs cover a wide array of sizes and weights, and heavier wheelchairs need stronger lock down points.
The ward you live in affects what day you can go to a particular place. For example, if John lives in Bishopthorpe and wants to go to Monks Cross for coffee with Jim who lives Clifton and also needs to use Dial & Ride. John would be there on Monday and Jim would be there on Thursday so they would never be able to meet for coffee.
For people with PAs or carers, you have to organise time slots to fit in with their schedule and they have shift patterns to stick to so may not be able to support you for the journey. Especially as many do short shifts, often much less than 2 hours. If you do have 24 hour care, the PAs will need to hand over to other staff during the day and need to be at the clients home to do so.
Mental Health issues are high at the moment and include panic attacks and the need to get away from something immediately. Anxiety also means that you have to overcome concerns about taking a journey with other passengers you don’t know.
Imagine if, at the age of 20, you could only travel to certain places at certain times, and had to arrange it in advance? Further, you’d have to take an indirect route to your destination, increasing the amount of time a simple trip takes. And with only an hour and a half guaranteed at your destination? Would you feel empowered or a valued resident?
Why we need our vehicles?
We will be doing a longer blog post about why we need our vehicles, and why we need quick access to them, but to give you an idea:
- Portable ramps are carried in cars. Often a need to return to parked car to obtain it then return to store it. i.e. a single stepped access to a venue cannot be negotiated by an electric chair or mobility scooter etc.
- Need car nearby in case of medical or health emergency, for example some seizures require immediate rectal suppository medication which can be done discreetly in own vehicle.
- Cars provide a ‘safe haven’ in which to feel safe. Can hide until anxiety calms down. Or can drive away home from the situation.
- Sudden pain and fatigue is common with many disabilities resulting in the need to go straight home.
- Cars carry emergency medication, change of clothing, special dietary food and tube feeds. They also carry emergency tools, batteries etc in case of punctured wheelchair wheels and more.
- Larger vehicles often have toileting/changing facilities i.e. urine bottle or space in back to change incontinence pads discreetly.
- For many reasons, it can be difficult for disabled people to carry shopping so it’s essential to be able to return to your vehicle with shopping before continuing to your next shop.