Newcastle's Shopmobility service set to resume

The service helps shoppers with disabilities get around Eldon Square Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Images

Newcastle’s Shopmobility service is set to re-open its doors again following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The scheme, which offers shoppers access to mobility scooters and other mobility aids in Eldon Gardens, will return from September 1.

For the service to be COVID-secure, a number of changes are being made to keep staff and shoppers safe.

This includes a pre-booked service only for nine scooters a day, changes to the reception area to avoid people gathering, a dedicated parking area for scooters to be collected on Level 4 of Eldon Garden car park and additional cleaning of equipment.

Being COVID-secure means that staff will no longer be able to carry shopping bags or assist people on to their mobility scooters.

Toilet facilities next to the Shopmobility office will no longer be available.

Cllr Arlene Ainsley, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for transport and air quality, said: “Now that shielding has ended, we know that many of our customers are looking forward to getting out and about again, so it’s great to see this service open again.

“We’ve worked hard to ensure that the service is safe for both our staff and customers which has impacted on how the service operates, as we adjust to the new normal with social distancing and tight hygiene measures. 

Our staff are used to providing a very friendly service and go above and beyond their duties, but due to social distancing requirements, our staff will no longer be able to assist people with their shopping bags or help to get on scooters or wheelchairs, so we would advise people who need additional support to bring along a friend or family member to assist them.

Cllr Arlene Ainsley

“We look forward to welcoming our customers back and enjoying their favourite activities in the heart of the city.”

Operating four days a week, to provide support for people shopping in Eldon Gardens and Eldon Square shopping centres, the service helps members shop independently in the city’s popular retail areas.

Shopmobility costs members £25 a year for unlimited access to mobility aids for up to three hours per visit. Due to lockdown measures, membership has halved to 155 but the council is expecting more people to sign back up again to pre-COVID levels.

As the service was closed during lockdown, the council is offering to extend membership to cover the five-month closure at no extra charge.