Location: London (Kensington and Chelsea)

About: Age UK Kensington and Chelsea’s shopping service enables older residents of the borough who are unable to use public transport to do their shopping, while also providing an opportunity to socialise. Older people are transported to a local supermarket, for an extended trip over lunchtime, to shop, enjoy a meal and socialise.

Referrals to the scheme come from a range of sources including social services, friends, family and self-referrals. A home visit is undertaken to ensure that the individual meets the criteria for the service. Once accepted, clients are free to ring and request a place on the trips.

There are two trips per week and places are allocated largely on a first-come-first-served basis, although other factors – such as time since last trip and level of support needed – are taken into account. No advance bookings are taken, and clients are advised that generally speaking they will be allocated a place no more than once a fortnight.

Older people are collected at their homes by volunteers using a minibus from Westway Community Transport, and are taken to one of the local supermarkets, according to a rota. Volunteers support shoppers from the moment they leave their houses to their return – while some clients need to be pushed in a wheelchair, others simply need help carrying shopping to the kitchen.

The service is funded by the local authority the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the money goes towards the cost of the transport and the coordination of the service. Clients make a £1.50 contribution towards the costs. The cost of the trips is around £15, or £4 per hour, per client – a substantial saving on the cost of using a home care service.

The service provides additional benefits in ensuring client can choose their own shopping and get cash back, are able to leave the house, and can have a cooked meal and socialise with others they feel comfortable with.

An internal evaluation in 2012, based on a members’ survey emphasised the value shoppers placed on the social contact provided by the service.

Participant Quote:

“The only day I leave the house is Wednesday when I go to the shops with Age UK Kensington and Chelsea. It is great to meet other shoppers. Everyone is very friendly and you always feel welcome to the group. Volunteers will push my chair around the shop and will assist me to get on and off the bus. I have carers who come daily to help me at home but it is good to leave the house and meet other people. I particularly enjoy the time we spend at the restaurant when we chat and have a meal together.”

Who: Age UK Kensington and Chelsea, Westway Community Transport and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Age UK Kensington and Chelsea,
1 Thorpe Close,
London, W10 5XL

Tel: 020 8969 9105

Web: www.ageuk.org.uk