Shopmobility is a scheme which lends manual wheelchairs, powered wheelchairs and powered scooters to members of the public with limited mobility to shop and to visit leisure and commercial facilities within a town, city or shopping centre.
The concept of Shopmobility is for anyone, young or old, whether their disability is temporary or permanent. It is available for those with injuries, long or short-term disabilities - anyone who needs help with mobility. Shopmobility is about the freedom to get around. You do not need to be registered disabled to use it. With the introduction of shopping malls and pedestrianised areas, it has become increasingly difficult to access all areas of a town or city if you have mobility impairment. Shopmobility schemes actively encourage inclusion and equality by providing wheelchairs, powerchairs and power scooters for people to use.
Over 12 years ago the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland established the Shopmobility Scheme in Ireland to improve access to shopping for people with limited mobility. Since that first venture 12 years ago, Shopmobility has expanded to make Mahon Point Centre, Cork, Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin, Whitewater Shopping Centre, Newbridge and most recently Blanchardstown Shopping Centre friendlier places for people with reduced mobility. In Ireland, mostly for legal reasons the Shopmobility service is confined to shopping centres only.
Each Shopmobility unit provides manual wheelchairs, powered wheelchairs and scooters as appropriate to the persons mobility needs. The service is provided not only to physically disabled persons, but also to persons whose mobility is restricted by age, illness or accident, whether permanent or temporary. The Shopmobility service is a free service primarily due to funding from the DDAI, but also the support of the shopping centres. Clients must enrol as a member of the Shopmobility Scheme and to do so they must be able to prove their identity. No deposit is required. Staff members instruct users on the use of motorised wheelchairs and scooters prior to use and customers may take the equipment for up to four hours. The five Shopmobility centres have over 3000 regular users, many of whom travel from as far away as Sligo and Limerick because of the shopping freedom provided by the Shopmobility service. Shopping is now an established leisure activity and one engaged in by groups be they family or friends. The Shopmobility service allows groups to fully include friends or family with limited mobility.