Officials from the Japanese government visited Sutton Shopmobility in January to see how the charity helps makes the community more accessible to people with limited mobility.
Two delegates from Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism visited Sutton Shopmobility, as part of a research visit to the UK to investigate services that help the elderly and disabled get around town centres.
The ministers, Mr Yoshikazu Shimamura and Mr Toshimasa Nakagawa, were accompanied by an interpreter and the First Secretary for the Japanese Embassy, Mr Katsuhiko Kita .They were welcomed by Councillor Simon Wales, Sutton Council’s Lead Member for Finance, Assets and the Voluntary Sector, Scheme Manager Amanda Beck, Town Centre Manager, Martin Furtauer Hayes and Christina Moore, Promoting Independence Officer, Sutton Council.
The visitors were given a tour before being given a chance to try the range of mobility equipment available. They also took the time to talk to Sutton Shopmobility users and volunteers.
Sutton Shopmobility was founded in July 1990 by Ted Gates MBE to promote the independence of people with disabilities in Sutton by providing wheelchairs, mobility scooters and disability aids. Currently the scheme has 730 regular members and it has had over 2300 hires in the past year.
Councillor Simon Wales said:
“We were proud to welcome the delegates from Japan and show them how we help to increase the independence of people who have limited mobility.
“Sutton Shopmobility is partly funded by the Sutton Council, and the motorised and non-motorised wheelchairs and scooters that they hire out ensure that people who would otherwise struggle are able to get around the town centre.
“Our visitors took away plenty of information which I hope that they will be able to use in Japan.”
Mr Shimamura said:
“We found the visit very useful as part of our research into measures for helping elderly residents’ mobility. We were made to feel very welcome and enjoyed seeing and hearing the difference Sutton Shopmobility makes to improving people’s quality of life.”