Sheffield charity which provides mobility scooters and wheelchairs has council funding slashed

Mark Arber of Shopmobility
Mark Arber of Shopmobility
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A Sheffield charity which provides a 'lifeline' to disabled residents has had thousands of pounds worth of grant money slashed.

Shopmobility, which runs sites on West Street in Sheffield city centre and Crystal Peaks shopping centre, provides wheelchairs and mobility scooters for loan.

But Sheffield Council announced it will be stopping the £14,000 a year it gives to the charity to help with running costs.

The authority invited the charity to bid for a new tender but lost out to private firm Clark and Partners who are set to provide the newly named 'Mobile Sheffield'.

The scheme is funded by Sheffield Council and the Sheffield Business Improvement District (BID). A new store is set to open in The Moor Market today.

Mark Arber, who runs Shopmobility said he's had to make the 'tough decision' to raise hire prices on the back of the funding cut.

"We've had to put a pound on prices and although it may not sound a lot, if you use the service several times a week, it soon adds up for people on low incomes.

"I truly believe that people with disabilities should be able to access scooters and wheelchairs for free. For me, as an able-bodied person can get about for free then people who don't have that luxury. Unfortunately, the world doesn't work like that at the moment.

"We're squeezed every year and we keep on swimming up stream - we keep on going."

The charity has 10,000 registered service users and in 2016, processed 16,000 loans.

Diane Jarvis, manager of Sheffield BID commenting on the new scheme said: "One of the BID’s core aims is to make it easier for everyone to access and navigate the city centre. This scheme is an important step in helping to develop a disability-friendly city. It also demonstrates the city centre’s commitment to being inclusive. We want to ensure that access is not an issue for people with a disability.

“The city centre hosts an amazing selection of bars, restaurants, retailers and leisure activities. We want people with disabilities to be able to enjoy everything Sheffield City Centre has to offer. A disability shouldn’t be a barrier to experiencing the city centre. This scheme will help to ensure we meet our aim of access to all.”