• Scene Media

Southampton charity launches urgent appeal for volunteer drivers

A SOUTHAMPTON charity tackling loneliness and isolation in the city has launched an appeal for volunteer drivers to come forward to take vulnerable people to urgent medical appointments.

Communicare’s service users are unable to attend their appointments unaided, but it’s essential for their health they do, so the charity is urging those with cars to get in touch.

Kate Laver, Events & Communicare Coordinator, says: “Our service users are mainly elderly and have wellbeing issues. Many need help to get to GP appointments and hospital outpatient clinics, as they have no other way of getting there.

“We urgently need more volunteer drivers to provide just a little bit of time each week to help. We are searching for people who are available Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm to coincide with medical appointment times. Volunteer drivers would also need to have a car with four doors to allow for social distancing.

“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 too, we now urgently need to find others who can help us with transporting people to their essential medical 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.

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, or, pre-COVID-19, with, those it helps.

The services are free to the users, although beneficiaries are invited to make a donation if they are able to, and Communiteers are offered expenses.

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 will be provided too.

Communicare is inviting people from all walks of life and of all ages who have a current UK driving licence and their own four door car to get in touch, if they are able to help, by calling 023 8021 6016 or emailing via enquiry@communicareinsouthampton.org.uk.

Kate continued: “We would ask drivers to volunteer for 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 to help our users, we’d love to hear from you.

“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.”

To find out more about Communicare, please visit www.communicareinsouthampton.org.uk.

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