Shopmobility will not face axe after local campaign

SHOPMOBILITY in Cookstown is not to face the axe, as Regional Development Minister Connor Murphy says there are no plans to withdraw funding.

Fears rose in mid January with the publication of the Regional Development Draft Budget which proposed cutting cash to Shopmobility.

And as Cookstown Shopmobility was only just established, it was thought this service might be first for the chop.

Following a campaign, spearheaded by DUP MLA Ian McCrea and Ulster Unionist MLA Billy Armstrong who are on the DRD committee at Stormont and backed by Cookstown District Council, this vital and popular local service has been saved.

Mark Farquhar, Project Coordinator of Shopmobility said it was a huge relief to the people of Cookstown and the surrounding towns and villages who have been making use of the scheme since its launch last summer.

Shopmobility Cookstown has grown rapidly over its first few months and is hoping to purchase additional equipment in the near future.

Shopmobility provides an important link in the transport chain and addresses root causes of social and economic equality for people with mobility problems and disabilities by providing transport and equipment to facilitate access to local facilities.

Without even completing its first financial year, it was put to the Department of Regional Development Minister and Committee that it would have a major impact on so many people’s lives.

A letter from Minister Connor Murphy recognised the hard work of staff and volunteers in Shopmobility Cookstown and the success of the scheme to date. The letter went on to state that there will have to be a reduction in funding to some Shopmobility schemes but ‘there are no plans to withdraw financial support for Shopmobility Cookstown’.

Mr Farquhar said: “This is excellent news for the people of Cookstown. A lot of people and groups have put so much hard work into setting up this scheme and it would have been a real tragedy if funding had been cut.

“A huge thank you to all those who helped in the campaign to keep Shopmobility in Cookstown. Can I remind people that the scheme is available free for anyone to use and if you have difficulty getting around then the scooters can assist you”.

Shopmobility Cookstown provides scooters and wheelchairs to members of public who have limited mobility. This could be as a result of illness, age, sports injury, pregnancy or for any other reason that you are unable to get around. You do not have to be registered disabled to use the scheme. The scheme located in the Burnavon Arts Centre is free to join and free to use. If anyone is interested call into the Burnavon or contact Mark on 028 8676 7766 or 07714 289 877.