Serving and retiring volunteer community drivers were thanked at a morning tea and presentation held late last month at Lauriston Park Homestead.
The May 26 event was organised by Cambridge Community House (CCH), the organisation that in 2020 took over the former Red Cross community driver service. Each of the drivers was presented with framed certificates and coffee mugs.
CCH general manager Gabby Byrne said it was timely to recognise their value to the community.
“This may be the first time we have done this as a morning tea and a small presentation, but with some of our drivers retiring, it seems appropriate. We want to thank all our drivers for their valued time, for their safe driving, and for the use of their own vehicles in transporting people to and from their appointments,” she said. “Most of all, I want to thank them for the caring way in which they build rapport with those using the service.”
Helping with the presentation was Amy Watkins, who runs the reception desk at CCH and helps co-ordinate driver calls. Both she and Gabby said the demand was growing steadily as the country moves out of lockdown, and medical appointments increasingly switch back from online to face-to-face visits.
“We need more volunteers to come onto our system to ease the strain on those already on the roster. People can let us know how much time they would want to commit … we’d like them to come and talk to us about it,” said Amy.
Drivers go through a police check before progressing through the system. They need to be fully licensed and their vehicle needs to be fully warranted, registered and insured. Drivers are offered reimbursement to cover fuel costs.
Once on the call roster, drivers respond as needed by liaising with the person seeking transportation, collecting them from their home, take them to their appointment and waiting to take them home – unless the appointment is for an extended period of time. Wheelchairs are available through the service if the driver’s car can accommodate it. Most of the calls are for weekdays.
Some of the drivers present at the tea said volunteering for the service was one of the most satisfying things they had done. Many found it gave them a sense of ‘giving back’ and said they enjoyed making a difference and easing the concerns of people who may be undergoing health challenges.
Anyone interested in finding out more about becoming a volunteer driver should contact CCH on 07 827 5402. The number to use for those wanting to use the Cambridge Community House Volunteer Driver Service is 027 667 7076.