The charity Lake District Mobility has recently launched its first all-terrain mobility scooter, known as a Tramper, at Whinlatter Forest.
The mobility scooters are available for hire for people with limited mobility to participate in the same outdoor activities as their family, friends and the wider community. Julia Walker, founder of the charity, said: “I’m excited that people can come here and spend time together and they’re not having to leave someone in the cafe or at home, instead they can feel part of a group.”
Julia, 37, of Cockermouth, suffers with problems with her pelvis and was not able to enjoy walks for many years and her grandfather in law, a former mountaineer, was also missing the views of the Lake District. She continued: “This is where the idea came from. There are 47 sites in the South West where you can hire Tramper mobility scooters and there are a couple in south Cumbria but nothing up here. Nine out of 10 people who use Trampers don’t class themselves as disabled, it could be people with heart problems, people who can normally only walk short distances or a have limited mobility. If you can’t normally get involved in outdoor activities, this is for you.”
Pat Newlove, 70, of Cockermouth, was the first person to sign up to the scheme. She commented: “This has opened up spaces I never thought I’d be able to enjoy again. Now I can be part of a group and get out. The Tramper mobility scooter is very easy to use and very stable.”
Sarah Bromiley, community project manager at Age UK, explained that although Pat enjoyed group activities with the charity, it is only because of this initiative that she can now actively participate with the walking group. She explained: “She never expected this opportunity to open up to her. If you think that when you’re in a wheelchair you always have a person behind you, with the Tramper mobility scooter you can see the person and have a conversation with them, you can have that connection. This project is giving people who are potentially isolated and lonely access to the community and people who can normally walk short distances can go a little further.”
The £8,000 Tramper mobility scooter was funded thanks to cash from the county council’s local committee for Allerdale and the charity has already secured funding for two more Trampers thanks to a private donor. Lake District Mobility, which has collaborated with Whinlatter, Cumbria CVS and Countryside Mobility, is hoping to identify sites and have the other Tramper mobility scooters in situe before the summer.
Nathan Fox, Forestry Commission ranger at Whinlatter, said: “The Forestry Commission provides access for a whole range of different people but the fact that we’re on a mountain here makes it more challenging. I’m looking forward to Whinlatter being opened up to a whole new range of people and working with the charity.”
Tramper mobility scooters have a weight capacity of up to 25-stone and on a charge, a 30 mile distance. The public can apply for annual membership to the scheme which lasts for 12 months and costs £10. A taster or temporary membership lasts for two weeks and costs £2.50.
Two people riding a mobility scooter were escorted off a busy dual carriageway by Gloucestershire Constabulary.
Dashcam footage from the police officers’ car showed the mobility scooter crawling along the A40 at 8mph. Officers in an unmarked car guided the mobility scooter driver and his passenger towards the Shell petrol station at Longford, Gloucestershire.
Gloucestershire police said on Twitter: ‘A video sent to us from our @tri-force colleagues from the A40 #Gloucester of an incident they have dealt with recently… #keepingpeoplesafe comes in a variety of ways!’
Class three mobility scooters can go on the roads at maximum speeds of 8mph and are allowed on dual carriageways, although they are advised to avoid them if the speed is over 50mph. They must be registered with the DVLA.
A spokesperson for Gloucestershire Police said: “The footage was taken on 7 April at 5.28pm on the A40 Gloucester bypass.
Police received several calls from concerned motorists who were worried for the safety of the pair on the mobility scooter on a road with had a speed limit of 70mph. Tri force officers attended promptly and safely escorted the pair off the dual carriageway. Officers then gave advice and education about safety on the roads. They then stayed with the pair and arranged for a taxi to collect them and the scooter so they could safely make their way to their destination.”
Since the 2010 Equality Act, workplaces across the UK are obliged to provide disability access. Yet despite driving up the use of mobility aid tools and facilities such as mobility ramps, new research reveals many workers believe using mobility aids, including a mobility scooter, in the workplace would undermine their professional image and credibility.
From a poll of 1,003 workers surveyed by RELYNC, the mobility scooter manufacturer, 47% admitted that the modern design of mobility aids would negatively impact their image. Shockingly, as many as one in six expressed concerns they would be perceived as lazy using the mobility aids and mobility scooters, with 23% saying it would affect their future employability prospects. Given this, it’s unsurprising to learn that one in three cited a social stigma attached to mobility scooters, with the research also showing the mobility scooter as more acceptable in practical situations such as shopping instead of professional ones.
Commenting on the findings Ellen Zha, global sales director as RELYNC, said: “For the most part, unless you are working in a manual position, they won’t affect the mind or our abilities to do our jobs, and so this shouldn’t be something that workers are ashamed of.”
She continued: “Clearly there are some negative – and actually unfounded – connotations to using these devices. But this needn’t be the case. Firstly, companies need to be clear about their inclusion policies and management need to set an example by demonstrating a welcoming and positive attitude towards those who do use mobility devices, especially the mobility scooter, for whatever reason it might be.”
In light of unenlightened attitudes, RELYNC believes upgrading the design of mobility scooters would help change attitudes. However, given that immobility encompass a wide range of people and conditions, from sports and DIY injuries to arthritis, staff must move away from the stigma and show understanding to peers.
Do you feel there is a social stigma associated with being a mobility scooter user? Let us know in the Reply Box below.
Each year, the number of accidents nationwide, involving mobility scooters, continues to rise. Several have been severe and resulted in deaths.
A Stay Safe skills and safety session is now being offered to mobility scooter drivers in Horsham, Surrey with the aim of increasing safety awareness and skills to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries. Organised by Horsham District Older Peoples Forum and Horsham Town Community Partnership (HTCP) in association with Age UK Horsham District and Horsham District Council, the free volunteer run sessions start in May2018.
The barn in the park will be used as the mobility scooter training venue on Wednesday afternoons with most of the time spent outside on practical driving and recognising obstacles and hazards in good time. The tutors have all spent time at the Carshalton centre of the charity Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People, which has a long history of providing mobility scooter training.
David Searle, chairman of HTCP commented: “We will be at the Carfax food market on Thursday April 26. If you would like to come along and have a chat, we will be pleased to answer your questions. “You may decide to sign up for a free, afternoon safety and skills session or know someone who should attend.”
Mobility scooter user Isla Reid, 25, from Southport, who is also pregnant, said she felt discriminated against after she was unable to access a train from Lime Street Station in Liverpool to a hospital appointment.
But the firm says it is piloting a mobility scooter-friendly scheme on its electric trains in Yorkshire. It says it hopes to expand the scheme more widely as soon as possible, once new trains and platforms have been installed.
Ms Reid said: “I can get on almost any train in the country other than Northern, who I feel are discriminating against the disabled. They say I’m not allowed on their trains as they don’t allow mobility scooters. But I don’t have anything else, like a wheelchair. It’s an outdated rule and it’s horrible – I’ve got to get to an appointment. I was hoping to go from Liverpool Lime Street to Broadgreen.”
She explained: “First, someone said to me they didn’t have the right ramps when I asked over the phone. Then someone said they couldn’t have the electric chair on a diesel train. Then one staff member told me to get a taxi – and that they might reimburse me – but only assess the situation after I’d paid for it.”
Isla continued: “And, recently, at Lime Street, a Northern worker said that wasn’t the case – and said it was a safety issue having a mobility scooter there when passengers needed to get off. But I think there is space onboard. They looked quite shocked at Lime Street when I said to them I regularly travelled with Virgin, London Midland, Southern. London Midlands go from the same station and allow mobility scooters; Merseyrail trains feel smaller than Northern but they let me on.”
A spokesperson for Northern said: “We are always open to listening to our customers’ needs and requirements and are working towards improving accessibility for all. Of course, feedback is absolutely key to ensuring we provide the best possible customer service and experienced both now and in the future.”
The statement continued: “However, currently, due to the restricted manoeuvrability and stability of mobility scooters, we do not accept any type of mobility scooter for travel on our services, regardless of size, unless it can be folded and carried on board as a piece of luggage. We do not ask customers to carry on the folded mobility scooter themselves. If they are travelling alone or require assistance, our train crew team will be happy to assist with loading and unloading.”
The spokesperson added: “As we operate several different types of trains and our services call at more than 500 stations with a variety of platform heights, this can cause safety issues when driving a mobility scooter on or off a train with a low platform. Unfortunately, the trains we operate were built before the introduction of mobility scooters and were therefore not designed with them in mind. However, we will continue to listen to customers to help inform future developments in our train fleet.”
Have you had a similar experience? Let us know in the Reply Box below.
A team of researchers from Nottingham is attaching high definition cameras to mobility scooters in a bid to prevent more people being injured in collisions.
The project, being led by psychologists at Nottingham Trent University, will provide mobility scooter users with guidance on the type of dangers they may encounter and how to identify them.
Mobility scooter users are being invited to drive along a planned route as part of the project, with cameras recording the view from the user’s perspective and eye-tracking technology used to show what the mobility scooter driver is looking at.
There are currently between 300,000 and 350,000 people using mobility scooters in the UK. This is anticipated to increase by up to 10%. In 2014 there were more than 200 mobility scooter-related collisions in England and Wales, nine of which were fatal.
Dr Duncan Guest, a psychologist at Nottingham Trent university’s school of social sciences, explained: “There are a number of health and well-being benefits associated with using mobility scooters, such as increased independence and improving self-esteem. However, these benefits might not be realised if someone uses a scooter for the first time and gets into a difficult situation. Our aim is to improve the safety of new mobility scooter users and reduce potential collisions.”
The research will be used to create a training video for Shopmobility centres and other charities.
A pensioner from Withywood in Bristol who was left stranded at home after callous thieves stole and burnt his mobility scooter has had some good news.
Arthur Panes, 88, was devastated when criminals stole his £2,000 scooter from outside his sheltered accommodation in Bearbridge Road. Mr Panes was forced to store the mobility scooter outside after the fire service told Brunelcare, who run the accomodation, it was a fire hazard.
Now a mobility scooter has been donated to Arthur Panes and Brunelcare are providing a lockable storage space and access ramp to keep it safe. A statement from the company indicated Brunelcare has been supporting Arthur Panes and has been in regular contact with his family since his mobility scooter theft.
The statement read: “We are pleased to update you that a donated mobility scooter has been obtained by Arthur’s family and is now being stored in the lockable facility at Brunelcare’s site. We are spending over £5,000 on a new ramp to the lockable store, so that Arthur will be able to access his scooter easily. We are also supporting the family with sourcing mobility scooter insurance. As soon as all this has been done, we hope Arthur will be able to enjoy getting out and about again on his new mobility scooter.”
Arthur Panes and neighbour Brian James both had their mobility scooters stolen and destroyed in October. A mobility scooter was donated to Mr Panes by a family friend and his is now able to travel to the shop independently. He said: “It’s a lovely mobility scooter. I’m feeling a bit better. I’ve broken down a couple of times. Thank you. I’m so grateful to everyone.”
Network Rail’s level crossing management process did not take full account of use by mobility scooters at Bentley, a report into a fatal accident at the station has said.
A Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) report into the death of an 83-year-old man, which happened at the level crossing near Farnham in October 2016, concluded he probably did not hear the train’s warning horn and may not have even seen the approaching train due to sun glare before it hit him. At 4.20pm on Wednesday October 5 2016, a mobility scooter was struck by a train and the scooter user was killed.
As a result of the incident, the RAIB has recommended Network Rail modifies its level crossing management processes so that it considers mobility scooter use at all crossings which rely on users looking and listening for trains.
The summary of the report read: “Users of Alice Holt footpath crossing are required to look and listen for approaching trains before deciding whether it is safe to cross the line. It is uncertain why the user decided to cross when it was unsafe to do so, as CCTV images suggest that he had previously crossed in a safe manner.”
The report continued: “It is probable that the user did not see the train or misjudged when it would arrive at the crossing, perhaps due to sun glare, when deciding to cross. The mobility scooter user’s opportunity to see the approaching train was limited by the design of Alice Holt crossing, in particular the fencing. The mobility scooter user did not react to the train’s horn, possibly because he did not hear it.”
The report concluded: “The RAIB has found that Network Rail’s guidance for level crossing managers did not include any advice concerning use by mobility scooter users and the management of the crossing had not allowed for vulnerable users such as these.”
Residents in sheltered accommodation in Scunthorpe who faced losing their mobility scooters if they travelled at a speed of eight miles per hour have been given a reprieve after claiming they they would be left house-bound.
Ongo Homes wanted to ban class three mobility scooters being kept on the premises at Lincoln Court in the town for safety reasons. But following a letter of protest from the residents and intervention by Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin, the Scunthorpe-based housing association has reversed it’s decision.
Carol Simmons, 68, who has lived at Lincoln Court for six years, said in January this year she had paid £2,000 on hire-purchase for a mobility scooter after being given permission by her landlords. Mrs Simmons explained: “Since then we have been told keeping the mobility scooters on site is a fire risk. We have all got our own insurance cover. We feel a ban would take away our independence and leave us house bound, relying on others to do our errands. We feel we have been discriminated against.”
Fellow resident Broderick Woodall, 59, added: “I moved into Lincoln Court in March on the understanding I could bring my scooter with me.” Mr Woodall said as he weighed more than 24-stone he had to use a class three mobility scooter to get around.
Mr Dakin. having met the residents, said: It was very clear that these proposals would have a significantly detrimental impact on the mobility and independence of residents. I have already made contact with Ongo and as a result of that they have committed to have an internal review to address these concerns going forward. I look forward to the outcome of those debates and certainly hope that a suitable outcome can be achieved.”
Helen Wright, Ongo Homes support service manager, commented: “We are having ongoing discussions with the tenants, staff, our local MP and fire safety reps to work on a way to resolve the issue around mobility scooter storage. At the moment we are looking into different options for the various sized mobility scooters to ensure we are meeting the needs of our tenants whilst keeping the safety in the scheme a priority.”
She continued: “All of our retirement living schemes have external mobility scooter stores and we’re looking at the option of mobility scooters (including class three) being allowed to be stored in the store, providing there is space. We are also exploring the idea of having a maximum size of mobility scooter to be allowed in the stores. We will be seeking external advice on a suitable maximum size to set.”
Helen added: “We can accommodate scooters without compromising the safety of our tenants, we always will. We will continue to consult and discuss with our tenants around this issue to resolve the problem.”
Modern conveniences such as online shopping and mobility scooters can ease the physical strain on those who are getting on in years. And you can hardly blame pensioners for wanting to take things easy in their retirement after a lifetime of work.
But is a lack of exercise actually causing problems for older people, and making it more likely that they could suffer serious injury? The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy says millions of pensioners are failing to maintain their strength, which is putting them at greater risk of falls. According to a survey carried out by the CSP, 25% of over-65s don’t do any strength exercises at all – this can include yoga, as well as activities not usually seen as ‘exercise’, such as digging in the garden or carrying shopping bags.
The CSP says that the increasing popularity of online shopping means fewer pensioners are now carrying home groceries themselves.Muscle waste in pensioners can have serious consequences – the vast majority of hip fractures among older people come from falls, costing the NHS around £1 billion a year. Professor Karen Middleton, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, believes strength exercises can help pensioners live healthier and longer lives.
Professor Middleton explained: “We must move past the idea that becoming weaker and frailer is inevitable as we get older. Research shows getting stronger brings a whole host of health benefits so it is incredibly important that people don’t overlook strengthening when being active. This doesn’t mean immediately hitting the gym to lift weights – to start, it can be digging in the garden or simple bodyweight exercises like standing up out of a chair 10 times. There are easy ways to do it but the essential thing is to get started and these poll results show a lot of work needs to be done to get that message out.”