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Rural community wheelchair-accessible vehicles tackling loneliness

A UK charity has employed an adapted Wheelchair-Accessible Electric Vehicle to help tackle social isolation in rural communities.

Lutterworth Community Transport, a service of Lutterworth Volunteer Centre, provides a volunteer-driven social car and community minibus scheme for people who are vulnerable, disabled, elderly or rurally isolated in the Lutterworth and Broughton Astley districts in Leicestershire.

The challenge to provide transport for all

“Many people cannot access mainstream public transport due to lack of availability, or lack of ability to walk to a bus stop, and then inability to get on and off the vehicle. We offer a door-to-door service using a range of adapted vehicles to meet this need”, explains Graeme Thomson of Lutterworth Community Transport.

As a significant number of people served by the organisation suffer from mobility impairments, or depend on a wheelchair for their personal mobility, they often find it difficult to get in and out of a standard car or van. The charity wanted a versatile, accessible vehicle that could work for disabled passengers, whilst also being environmentally friendly and economical to operate without the need for a 3.5 tonne C1-class licence.

A specialist adapted vehicle as a solution

As the charity already operated a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle provided by specialists Brotherwood for a new solution.

Brotherwood suggested a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) conversion for the electric Vauxhall Vivaro – a medium-sized battery-electric vehicle with space for up to 5 passengers alongside a driver. It has a specially-engineered lowered floor section to allow a wheelchair user to travel while staying in their wheelchair. Wheelchair access is provided by a rear access ramp and remote-controlled winch. A safety-tested 4-point restraint system holds the wheelchair securely in place for a stable ride. As an electric vehicle, the travelling experience is smooth and quiet – helpful for passengers with sensory processing issues.

Making sure the service caters for individuals of all levels of mobility, there are further adaptations, such as an automatic fold-out side step and electric turn-out front passenger seat.

Says Graeme Thomson: “We now have an incredibly versatile vehicle that caters for multiple needs that is used daily on our shuttle run to transport passengers with dementia to the Academy for Dementia Research and Education, also based in Lutterworth.”

Testing potential solutions for wheelchair users

Brotherwood offers a range of new Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles and factory refurbished WAVs, as well as flexible, long or short-term accessible vehicle hire.

The company also offers free, no-obligation home demonstrations across the UK, and works in conjunction with case managers and occupational therapists to deliver mobility solutions for wheelchair users.

Training for healthcare professionals

The supplier is also a certified CPD Member, offering free training sessions, study days and workshops to healthcare professionals involved in the provision of accessible transport. The company aims to ensure that case managers are equipped with the knowledge to enable them to perform transport needs assessments, and ensuring their client’s needs are accurately measured and met.

Brotherwood is also a member of WAVCA (The Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Convertors Association) and is an approved supplier to the Motability scheme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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