• Volunteers Week 2022 end of week summary

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    ‘Being a volunteer driver is as beneficial to me as much as it is to the passengers. Since retiring and not having any relatives close by, I needed a focus so as I love meeting new people and I like driving it is the ideal voluntary solution for me. I have met some really lovely people with the most interesting stories to tell, and they are all so appreciative. It is lovely to be able to help people by doing something so simple as giving them a lift!’ (Maureen Mitchell, Bridges Centre, Monmouth)

    For Volunteers Week 2022, we wanted to recognise the incredible contribution volunteers make to the Community Transport sector, as well as take a moment to hear from some of the volunteers that keep the sector moving. We asked CTA members across the country to share some of their stories, and it has been an absolute pleasure to share some snapshots of these stories with you via our social media channels.

    So many of these snapshots had a great backstory behind them, so we wanted to share a bit more with you all via this blog. Thanks so much to all the CTA members who shared their stories with us, and thank you to all the community transport volunteers involved around the UK – we couldn’t do it without you!

    ‘We need to understand and to train our volunteers to know that a lot of the people we support are very isolated or vulnerable, and that is exacerbated by the difficulties of living in such a rural setting. As you get older it becomes harder to travel and maybe you lose your driving licence, and for a lot of people that’s when life becomes difficult. There is a real pressure on vulnerable people in rural communities, because they have to work out how to do everything, even buying a loaf of bread, everything is a logistical challenge when you’re isolated or have health concerns in such rural settings.

    ‘I definitely feel that if it weren’t for the willing and the warmth of our volunteers, a lot of the people that we support would be at risk of not leaving the house at all for necessary appointments and supplies, which is a troubling thought. For example, we supported a lady who was suspected to be in the early stages of dementia, and when her volunteer called to confirm pickup times for her dementia assessment, she said she was unwell and would not be keeping the appointment. The volunteer was concerned and escalated the situation, which resulted in the client receiving a visit from a Healthcare Assistant who, with the client’s permission, re-confirmed the pickup with us. We can’t help but think that if the volunteer hadn’t been trained to notice and escalate such situations, that maybe the client would have not attended her appointment and would not be getting the dementia support that she needs.

    ‘We encourage our volunteer drivers to appreciate the social and the companionship element to their role, as much as the practical. They are encouraged to build trusting relationships with the people that they drive. They get to know them and they build bonds. The clients often don’t want to get on busses and taxis with people they don’t know, they want that privateness, security and companionship that our volunteers provide’ (Bob Hazelhurst, RVS Country Cars, Ceredigion).

    Rod Bowen at Dolen Teifi highlights the fantastic contribution made by two of their volunteers:

    ‘This great photograph shows the moment that Tom Cowcher, Chair of Dolen Teifi, and Nia Griffiths, MP, presented a gift to one of our oldest volunteer drivers, Dilwyn Morgan, for his long service and for all the work he did during the pandemic. Today Dilwyn is a young 79 yrs. 11 months old. Dilwyn drives for a wide range of local organisations and individuals and has been volunteering for Dolen Teifi for over 17 years. During this time, he has done well in excess of 12,480 hrs of volunteer driving and he says that one of his favourite vehicles to drive is our fully Electric Nissan eNV 2000!’

    ‘This is Roy Davies. Roy usually travels with his wife, Gwen Davies, and both have been volunteering with us since 2015. Roy drives whilst Gwen acts as an assistant, helping with the passengers.  Roy is passionate about volunteering and has amassed a huge 1,344 hours of driving since the start of the pandemic. Roy has been instrumental in working with us and the local Health Board to get people to their vaccination appointments. Since the start of the vaccination roll-out Roy has carried well over 1,200 passengers and, this year alone, has driven 4,456 miles in the minibus. Roy leads two lives and, pre pandemic, travelled three times a year to the outskirts of Perth Australia, where he “also” volunteers as a driver.  Now that’s volunteering on a world wide scale!’

    ‘As Past Volunteer Co-ordinator for eight years and now present Manager for Out and About Community Transport, I know how much we depend on our Volunteer Car Drivers. They are a dedicated team of Volunteers that have played a vital role within our organisation over the last 20 plus years.

    ‘Their spirit, energy and commitment is a huge boost to the organisation. Each of them have reached out to our members selflessly, not only providing transport to their much needed appointments, but as caring volunteers they provide that ear to listen and that time to allow them to talk and share their worries and concerns with them.

    ‘Many of our members live in extreme isolated areas and our Volunteers could be their only Lifeline. The Volunteers go above and beyond their call of duty with nothing ever too much bother to them.

    ‘Our Volunteers give their time tirelessly to ensure the smooth functioning of the organisation, their dedication never goes unnoticed. They have always been willing to support Out and About in whatever way they can, because for them it’s not a chore.

    ‘So to our Team of Volunteers, thank you all so much for your time that you have given over the years, it is truly appreciated by the team at Out and About’ (Gillian Atkinson, Out and About, Magherafelt).

    Julian Sampson is a semi-retired accountant who is a Trustee, Meals on Wheels and community bus driver at South Denbighshire Community Partnership. He explains:

    “I started volunteering during COVID as I had time to spare and thought I would be able to offer something to the local community.  It gives me the chance to meet a lot of people I would never normally come across and to learn about other people’s lives.  Not only has it taught me a lot about how other people live and given me a chance to get out of the house, but it’s also been an enjoyable experience and I am now getting more involved in other volunteering projects.”

    ‘This past year, Easilink Volunteer Car Drivers have gone above and beyond to provide safe and reliable transport to our service users. An amazing 5280 of our passenger trips in 21/22.

    ‘On Volunteers’ week we want to say a massive “Thank You” to our Volunteers, who are going above and beyond to provide transport to our service users. As always, we appreciate your commitment, care and appreciate the contribution you make to our organisation’ (Claire Russel, Easilink, Omagh).

    Carol Baker (Volunteer Driver and Statistics Co-ordinator)

    “I joined BGSTS as I felt that I wanted to contribute to, and put something back into the community. I have enjoyed making new friends both amongst the other volunteers and the service users. It has been good meeting new people and learning more about the local area and the people that populate it.”

    William Hadfield (Chair)

    “We are all unpaid volunteers and volunteers like Carol are extremely important to us, she goes the extra mile not only to support her community but also assist myself in the preparation of the necessary statistics, this ensures we continue to deliver a much needed service to the community of Benllech and its surrounding villages.”

    ‘As a newly operating CT group, we have been surprised at how much can be done with very few volunteers. This is due the type of volunteer we are lucky enough to have in our group. With one booking coordinator manning the phone, registering users and logging appointments and two active drivers we have been able to provide a Health Appointment Transport Scheme (HATS) to a wide range of clients who are unable to use public transport for a variety of reasons.

    ‘Testimony from our clients about the difference our service has made not only to them but to family members around them has inspired our volunteers to go the extra mile when possible. While we need more volunteers to expand our services, we are thankful to the volunteers we already have for their time and good will (Andy Sinnott, West Dunbartonshire CT).

    ‘I do a mixture of regular and one off jobs where I get to know the recipients very well, as they do me. It is rewarding and satisfying to enable and assist people to achieve something which they wouldn’t be able to do without the Car Scheme. For my part being involved with the Car Scheme means that, in retirement, I can still do something both useful, enjoyable and fulfilling’ (Richard Kimberley, Bridges Centre, Monmouth).

    ‘Volunteering is an opportunity to serve my local community by applying skills that I enjoy using. A true win-win situation’ (David Evans, Bridges Centre, Monmouth).

    ‘Volunteering as a driver with the car scheme gives me the opportunity to be able to make a difference to people who have lost their mobility. It is so much more than just driving to a destination; it’s about getting to know them and their needs, giving them a helping hand if they need it. When I do a car scheme journey for someone it makes me feel I have done something worthwhile with my time and also I feel more connected with my local community’ (Jim Marsh, Bridges Centre, Monmouth).

    ‘Volunteering with the Car Scheme (and ‘Befriending’) gives me a sense of doing something useful in the community and is an opportunity to meet some really interesting and lovely people who appreciate a helping hand. Such people have also reminded me that ‘being old’ is a state of mind and not just a chronological age!’ (Peter Lunt, Bridges Centre, Monmouth).

    ‘When the pandemic began, our busy schedule depleted, I could actually see it in our volunteers’ faces – “What’s happening? What are we going to do with ourselves?” Thankfully, I had a call from our local Inverclyde Council asking if our volunteers would do ‘Dinner Deliveries’ for the people who were shielding. I asked the volunteers who would like to go on a rota for this, and ten of my volunteers agreed within 5 minutes.

    ‘Inverclyde Council kept in touch daily with myself while I was obviously at home, I set up a WhatsApp group for the volunteers and everything went smoothly. When Dinner Deliveries were stopped, Inverclyde Council invited them down for afternoon tea as a thank you.

    ‘In October/November, we slowly had bookings coming in and now I am delighted to say we are back to ‘normality’ being very busy the last few months. Our volunteers are dedicated to our organisation and the service users get to know them all. Our organisation would not be able to continue without their enthusiasm, dedication, reliability and of course, their sense of humour helps’ (Christine Dunn, Port Glasgow Trans-Port)

    Thank you to all the dedicated and passionate volunteers who give up their time for their communities. It is because of you, that the sector continues to thrive. You make such a difference and your hard work never goes unnoticed. Happy Volunteers Week 2022!

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