Drivers needed to get people to urgent medical appointments
DRIVERS with their own cars are being asked by a Southampton charity this month (June 2020) to volunteer to transport its service users to urgent medical appointments throughout the summer and beyond.
Communicare needs help with the collection and return of isolated and often lonely residents to their homes when they have GP appointments and hospital outpatient clinics to attend.
Hannah Silver (pictured above), who gives her time freely to the charity as a trustee and volunteer, says: “We’re a friendly, neighbourhood charity that enriches the lives of lonely and isolated people in and around the city. Our service users are mainly elderly and have wellbeing issues.
“Our services are staffed by our committed, kind-hearted Communiteers, who volunteer to give their time freely. They act as good neighbours, generously making regular befriending telephone calls and doing shopping for those unable to leave home at the moment, as well as providing other practical and emotional support.
“As many of our existing volunteers are also aged over 70 and may be classed as vulnerable, we need now to find others who can help us with transporting people to their essential appointments.”
Communicare wants to eradicate loneliness and isolation in Southampton. Normally its services are linked to hosting face-to-face social events, such as regular lunches and tea parties for service users, but the charity, understandably, is unable to organise these currently due to the pandemic.
“While we don’t require volunteers for these events, we still have lots of people who need help now getting to their appointments and we urgently need more volunteer drivers to provide just a little bit of time each week to help. We urgently need people who are available Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm to coincide with medical appointment times and those that have four-door cars too to allow for social distancing.”
The charity’s Good Neighbours’ Network normally supports nearly 400 individuals/ families annually, covering more than 2,300 tasks including one-to-one befriending, transport to activities such as the regular lunch clubs and tea parties it hosted before the lockdown, and shopping for those it helps. Communiteer drivers are offered simple and basic training on topics such as safeguarding and developing listening skills, and can choose the level of commitment and involvement they wish to have. Following Government guidance, appropriate PPE is provided too.
Hannah continues: “Our service is free to users, although beneficiaries are invited to make a donation if they are able, and Communiteers are offered expenses.” Communicare is inviting people from all walks of life and of all ages who have a current UK driving licence and their own car to get in touch.
“Drivers work 30 minutes to an hour a week, or on a pre-agreed ‘on-call’ basis, depending on the individual’s availability. If you can spare a few hours, please do get in touch. It would mean such a lot to our service users who are unable to make their own way to these essential medical appointments.
“Anyone who volunteers for us now will have their application and our recruitment process fast tracked. With the Government’s support, we’re getting references and DBS checks done as quickly as we can, so volunteers can be operational as soon as possible.
“Those wishing to help with transport will go through our recruitment process as normal, with all the same policies applying. This will mean that we are confident about the safety of those we are trying to help.”
To find out more about Communicare, please visit www.communicareinsouthampton.org.uk.