Bognor mobility charity on track to help thousands

Shopmobility volunteers in Bognor Regis are looking forward to their best year.

They expect the current 12 months to be the busiest in the 15-year history of the charity.

Latest figures published at its annual meeting on July 20 showed 2,079 hirings in the year to the end of March.

Chairman Michael Chart said: “I’m expecting this to be our busiest 
year yet. We used to have a drop-off in the winter but now, for whatever reason, that is not happening.

“It could be that people are not travelling so far and they are staying in Bognor.

“We are maintaining our level of hirings throughout the year.

“With Butlin’s expanding continuously, we are looking forward to even greater custom from their clients.

“The machines we have now are much more reliable and, so, everything is in place for us to grow.”

Expansion

Part of the expansion was due to the purchase of a secondhand van early this year.

This enables easier deliveries, particularly of the larger scooters, to the more distant clients in Bracklesham Bay, Selsey, Church Farm Holiday Village in Pagham and even up to Midhurst.

“This should also keep costs down and, hopefully, increase our ability to serve more customers,” he said.

The hiring figures were newly compiled by Shopmobility manager Marian Court. She has concentrated on hirings rather than sessions to give a more accurate picture of the number of people who use the service’s 30 electric wheelchairs and 34 scooters.

These show the busiest months of the past year were August and September with 252 and 251 hirings.

The quietest times were the 90 and 97 hirings in January and November.

“We have a good number of regular customers,” she told the meeting in the Regis Centre.

“They still have to come in to go to their bank or shopping.”

Busy

She paid tribute to the 24 volunteers whose help ensured the service survived.

Bognor’s service, based in the Belmont Street car park side of the town hall, was almost as busy as Worthing where the number of customers is declining.

Ray Goldring, the treasurer, said funding from grants had declined by £7,000 in the year to £9,000 as money became less freely available.

But this shortfall was overcome by the increase in business from visitors in Butlin’s. This enabled Shopmobility to end the year with a £1,500 surplus.

“I am pleased with that in the current financial climate,” he said.

All the officers and trustees were re-elected unopposed at the meeting.