Q&A With Shopmobility’s Store Manager, Kevin Walton
Havering Shopmobility, located at The Brewery is a local charity providing mobility scooters and wheelchairs for people with limited mobility to enable them to use the facilities of Romford Town Centre. They provide equipment for longer term hire, such as holidays, and have a selection of disability aids to purchase.
We caught up with Kevin Walton, Store Manager at Shopmobility about his own personal experience with disability, accessibility and how Shopmobility is key to making Romford Town more accessible.
In the short talk we had with Kevin his empathy shined through, this flows into the store, ensuring anyone who enters will be met with kindness and compassion.
Q: What previous experience did you have before moving to Shopmobility?
A: I was a volunteer for Barking and Dagenham for 15 years in various places like Studio 3 arts, Broadway theatre, the white house and others. I was a trustee at Chadwell Heath Community centre before becoming the chairman.
For 6 years as the chair, I grew the centre to what it is now, a vibrant happy, safe place for the local community. I have also been a director of Greenshoesarts, which was set up to help people with mental health creating arts and crafts.
I have suffered with mental health for a long time but have had help from my amazing therapist, I am lucky that I have been able to help others by talking about mental health.
Q: What accessible products can people find at Shopmobility?
A: We are a small charity but with a big heart, we help anybody that we can to help with mobility. At the shop we have various different electric scooters to hire out. We also have electric wheelchairs and self-propelled wheelchairs. You can join up to become a member for a fee of £15 per year that lets you hire equipment cheaper than being a non-member.
We have stock in both stores to help people with disabilities e.g., Walking sticks, Frames, rollators, etc.
Q: How many volunteers do you currently have?
A: We have roughly 27 volunteers at both shops at the moment but are looking to increase that number. Any age or any experience is the requirement, we just need your spare time. Volunteers are the backbone of our charity. You can train up at reception or in the garage or both. Pop into either shop and have a chat with our volunteers and find out how you can help.
Q: What advice would you give someone who may be hesitant to use Mobility Aids?
A: It took me a long time to admit I was disabled, but once I accepted it, I saw there were plenty of products available to help. The same with the shop, if you’re struggling to walk come in the shop and hire a scooter or wheelchair. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give your past self?
A: If I could advise my younger self on anything, it would be to not be so stubborn and accept help from others, self-care is just as important as caring for others.