For 25 years the dedicated team at Paisley and District Shopmobility has helped tackle loneliness and social isolation in the community.
Since its launch in July 1995, it has helped hundreds of people who without it would be lonely, vulnerable and unable to leave their own homes.
Giving people the freedom to get their own shopping, meet up with friends and even go on holiday are just some of the opportunities Paisley shopmobility has afforded people who may have been housebound without the service.
Run by a dedicated team of volunteers, the unique service enables people living with mobility issues to maintain their independence by offering free hire of wheelchairs and battery-operated scooters, ensuring they can get out and about in their community.
The service – which is completely free – has been needed the past year more than ever as the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in even more people facing loneliness and isolation due to lockdown.
As well as helping ensure people can get out and about, the service aims to connect with members by keeping in touch regularly.
Chairman Richard Vassie said: “There is no other service providing this support in Renfrewshire which allows people to manage their own care needs to support and help avoid preventable conditions.
“There is no fee to join. We realise the importance of not only asking people to sign up as a member, but, this provides us the opportunity to properly know our customer base and provide us with their details in order we can keep in touch which has proven to be really important.
“Many are and have been socially isolated for a significant period of time, particularly during the pandemic, and sometimes a wee call can make a positive difference in someone’s day.
“Many are lonely as a result of the pandemic. We have learned via our members that our service has needed to be developed over the last couple of years to meet customer demands.”
It was during the height of the pandemic that the shopmobility team realised how vital the support they offered was to those who use the service.
Volunteers made regular calls to members, and sent regular cards and newsletters to let people know they were there for them.
As a result, they delivered prescriptions and shopping to those who could not get out themselves, continued fixing broken scooters and made over 100 trips to the Royal Alexandra Hospital to help deliver prescriptions, pick up and drop off washing.
Their response during the pandemic has now pushed the service to change how it operates, and it has now purchased a new van to help boost their efforts.
Richard added: “During the pandemic it was critical for us to maintain contact and not just assume everyone has email or social media.
“Whilst we realise these platforms are important, we found that a telephone call, newsletters and cards were the best way to contact our membership at this particular time.
“We listened to what people had to say and as a result we managed to adapt our services to peoples’ needs.
“Ultimately this experience has helped us develop our social enterprise and as such we are reviewing our structure and have now purchased a company van which will further help our future delivery and thinking.”
Paisley Shopmobility is now looking forward to marking its milestone anniversary this year after having to halt their celebrations in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The social enterprise is also hoping to kick-start its fundraising again this year, with volunteer director Councillor Kenny McLaren giving the service its most recent boost during the 2021 Virtual Kiltwalk.
The elected member for Paisley Northwest walked ten miles for three days to raise £1,005 for the group.
And Richard hailed his efforts as well as thanking all other volunteers who make running the service possible.
He added: “Shopmobility relies on grants and fundraising activities such as the Virtual Kiltwalk to help raise the funds to keep the organisation going.
“Kenny has been a great help as a volunteer director and this fundraiser will help Shopmobility to continue to serve those with mobility problems in Renfrewshire.
“Over the last two years, Shopmobility has experienced significant growth as a result of an excellent team working together in a positive way using expertise to develop the social enterprise element of the
“The majority of people in our organisation are volunteers whom we simply could not dowithout.
“They are treated with the utmost respect and their skills are so diverse – we nurture our volunteers and they are certainly part of our organisation in every possible way from the day-to-day tasks to developing our strategy.”
For more information on Paisley and District Shopmobility, visit www.shopmobilitypaisley.net, call 0141 889 0441 or email Shopmobilitypaisley2019@outlook.com
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