Health driving volunteers needed

Volunteer health driver Jim Wiles with Cambridge Community House volunteer driving coordinator Carol Grant.

When he retired, Jim Wiles wanted to put something back into the Cambridge community he loves.

Driving and driver education is what Wiles is good at and it is an industry he spent years working in so it made sense for him to volunteer to drive people to and from Hamilton-based health and wellbeing appointments.

Carol Grant is the coordinator for the volunteer driving service based out of the Cambridge Community House.

It is more volunteers like Wiles that she needs, she said.

There are 15 drivers on the books and Grant says she needs another five more, at least. Having more women would be good.

“It’s nice for women to have a woman driver but we’re short of women drivers so we can’t always do that.”

Four years ago, Wiles was getting ready for retirement.

“I was looking for something to do and I didn’t want to just stop.”

He approached Red Cross to find out more about the volunteer driver scheme and they wanted him to start straight away.

He drove for Red Cross until the Community House took over the service last year.

“We are able to help people in a productive way. Some people don’t have access to other vehicles, they’re not allowed to drive.”
Wiles and the other volunteers pick people up, take them to the appointment and stay with them until they are ready to come home.

In return, passengers are asked to make donations to the Community House.

Volunteers use their own vehicles, go through police vetting and be fully Covid-19 vaccinated.

While there are community shuttles, some people find they are having to sit around and wait for the shuttle while others feel uncomfortable about going in a shuttle.

“This is a bit more personalised, a bit more unique,” said Wiles.

“There’s a gap in the services that we are filling,” said Grant.

“We don’t take people who need nursing care and if they need a hoist, we can’t take them either.”

Volunteers need to be empathetic, patient, caring, non-judgemental and want to put something back in the community, she said.
To volunteer, phone 027 667 7076.

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