Ripon's about to roll out a really important scheme to help people with disabilities and the elderly

A meeting of Ripon Physical and Sensory Impairment Group (RipPSI). Pictured from left: Lynette Barnes, Lindy Webb and Andrew Newton. Picture by Gerard Binks Photography.
A meeting of Ripon Physical and Sensory Impairment Group (RipPSI). Pictured from left: Lynette Barnes, Lindy Webb and Andrew Newton. Picture by Gerard Binks Photography.

A leading Ripon group is launching an initiative that will encourage the city's shops and businesses to provide a seat for elderly or disabled people, should they need to catch their breath or have a rest - with no obligation to make a purchase.

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Participating businesses will display a logo in their shop window to indicate that they are supporting the Take a Seat campaign, which is being rolled out by the Ripon Physical and Sensory Impairment Group (RipPSI), with great support from a number of key partners.

It's a scheme that's already been piloted and championed successfully in other towns and cities, including Nottingham - where there are now more than 300 businesses signed up, and it has become a well-established part of everyday city life.

When Take a Seat launches in Ripon on March 8, RipPSI's coordinator, Lynette Barnes, said she hopes it will convey an important message about the city to both residents and visitors. Already, a number of Ripon businesses have signed up.

Lynette said: "I think it will show that the city cares, and I think it will show that the businesses and retailers have good customer care, and that they are concerned and appreciate the community that they are part of - it builds up good relationships."

Lynette hopes the project will also help to tackle issues such as loneliness and social isolation, giving people more confidence to go out and overcome any barriers to them doing so.

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She said: "People can become quite isolated if they stay at home when they are not feeling 100 per cent - but if you know you can sit down and have a rest when you go out shopping, and then carry on, it can reduce isolation and loneliness.

"The more you go out and meet people, the more it lifts your mood. So the more things that can be done to make it easier for people to go out, the better. I would be really satisfied if I thought a person with a disability or the elderly could get around the city and have that confidence to know that within their walking limitations, there is a shop or business that can provide that seat for them."

Take a Seat is being endorsed and promoted by organisations including Ripon City Council, Ripon Together, Harrogate and Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service, and the Rotary Club of Ripon Rowels, who have all agreed to be partners.

The hope is that once the scheme launches, even more businesses will come on board.

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Lynette said: "Good customer care like this makes you feel good about a particular shop or outlet. If people take care of you, you want to go and support them. I think Take a Seat is great for local residents, and great for visitors too. As the scheme becomes more well-known, tourists will know where to go if they need to sit down.

"We are extremely grateful to Nottingham City Council for all of their help and advice, where the scheme has been very successful, and to all of our partners for their support."

As well as the elderly and people with disabilities, Lynette said Take a Seat can be open to anyone else who should need to sit down.

Shops, businesses and organisations who are interested in signing up to Take a Seat, should contact Lynette Barnes on 01765 602838. Those who participate will be given a logo to display and a logo seat cover.