Company aiming to put West Berkshire on the accessibility map
Berkshire Stairlifts is championing change in the district
Making the district a more accessible and compliant place to work and visit has become a bit of a crusade for Jade Sims.
For the past few months the 30-year-old has been working hard to create a new commercial wing to a family-run West Berkshire business.
She was brought in as the commercial planning and business development executive at Beenham-based Berkshire Stairlifts – the new venture of well-known company Newbury Mobility.
Newbury Mobility, set up by David and Avril Quince, realised that many local businesses were not compliant with The Equality Act 2010 and that meant so many people were missing opportunities.
Now, initially focussing on Berkshire, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire, Jade plans to change all of that and make accessibility issues a thing of the past.
Jade, who now lives in Marlborough with her fiancé, spent her early years in West Berkshire, attending Hamstead Norreys and then Baydon Primary Schools.
Her family moved to the New Forest where she completed secondary school before heading to Brockenhurst College to study English, sociology and psychology A-levels.
“After my A-levels I decided I wanted to get straight out into the working world, so I went to work in customer services for an insurance company in Bournemouth,” she explains.
“I then started working in recruitment for banks such as JP Morgan and Barclays.
“But Berkshire always felt like home, so at the age of 23 I moved back to Newbury and began working at Vodafone, managing their graduate programme.”
A desire to travel, seeing more of the world and experiencing different cultures then saw a big shift in career for Jade; she joined British Airways as First Class cabin crew.
“After living in the New Forest I went travelling to Asia,” she adds.
“I then moved back to West Berkshire but realised I hadn’t got the travel bug out of my system and so I joined BA to see more of the big wide world and get paid at the same time.
“I always said I was going to do it for a year, a break from the corporate world, but I ended up staying there for two years and I loved it.
“I was fortunate with the friends I made, places I visited and cultures I experienced.
“From Miami to the Great Wall of China, a few once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and ones that I will not forget.”
With her extended time at BA at an end, Jade started contracting back in the recruitment world with Adecco and it was at this time that her path first crossed with David and Avril; forming a great relationship with them while recruiting for their
Her most recent contract, covering a maternity leave, ended in March of this year, just as the country was going into lockdown and it proved to be exactly the right time for her, as Avril got in touch to discuss the company’s expansion plans.
Fast-forward six months and a new company arm – Berkshire Stairlifts – has been created and is beginning its campaign to help businesses become more accessible to staff and customers, in line with The Equality Act.
Its parent company, Newbury Mobility, has been known across the area for many years for the maintenance and installation of stairlifts in private homes, along with mobility scooter repairs.
And while the domestic side of the business remains strong, with existing and new customer relationships growing, Jade’s focus is now with local businesses.
“We realised, that despite The Equality Act of 2010, disabled and less-abled people almost seem to just accept that they can’t go somewhere; it is madness,” Jade says.
“We are now trying to put West Berkshire on the accessibility map and help our neighbouring businesses understand that legally, it is where we should all be… inclusive.”
Just talking to Jade you can see she has a real passion for what they are trying to achieve and she is doing all she can to ensure that they succeed.
“Twenty two per cent of the country are disabled or less-abled, so if you are not accessible, your business is losing potential money and your potential customers are losing their faith; to me, it is as simple as that,” she adds.
“This isn’t the world’s most glamorous industry, but it is a rewarding one and what was a nice discovery for me personally was that actually it isn’t all big, beige, bulky stairlifts anymore.
“We can tailor and brand the stairlifts or can install stylish, sleek through the floor lifts for your building to be accessible for all.”
Rental and purchase options, as well as new or reconditioned products, are now available.
Jade has spent a lot of time researching and talking to people with disabilities, including Newbury-based Louise Halling, who has a BBC Radio 4 programme where she talks about her life.
She has also worked closely with Neatebox founder Gavin Neate, who has created the WelcoME app that helps venues highlight their accessibility and helps users to understand the companies who are most accommodating to their needs.
“Gavin is a real ambassador for what we’re trying to do and the team are with us every step of the way,” she says.
“Valarie Jerome [optometrist in Newbury] is rooting for West Berkshire accessibility too.
“We are making some really good contacts in the area and eventually we hope to start breakfast seminars to collaborate in a relaxed environment.
“I want to continue to grow the existing support network in Berkshire, because it is evident that we should all be championing this change, as a community.”
Jade is also keen to point out that her ultimate goal is to educate people and make it affordable to implement changes.
Berkshire Stairlifts will be using the expertise of Newbury Mobility’s experienced engineers and knowledgeable customer service team, who offer a great balance of warmth and professionalism.
“We will be looking to grow the team to reach the wider counties,” she adds.
“We are starting with Berkshire because home is where the heart is, the surrounding counties are not going to be far behind.
“We pride ourselves on our strapline and it really rings true, Local Business – World Class Service.
“Everything is now slotting into place and we are really excited for what is to come.”