Volunteer support drivers sought

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By SHELLEY TOPP

Rangiora Cancer Society’s Support Group is seeking volunteer drivers to help with their transport service in the area.

Every year Cancer Society volunteers nationwide help make life easier for cancer patients.

In Rangiora their work includes providing a free transport service for cancer patients.

Fifty-one rides were provided for patients in March and 34 in April, with 135 since the start of this year by the team of 15 volunteer drivers.

The service covers Rangiora, Cust, Loburn, Sefton, Pegasus, Waikuku and Woodend. Each patient is collected at their home and taken into Christchurch Hospital for their medical appointments then taken back to Rangiora afterwards.

The volunteers come from a range of ages and backgrounds but are mostly retired people with women outnumbering men.

The door-to-door service is designed to relieve the stress of travel and appointment anxiety on patients and help make their journey a pleasant, relaxing experience. There is a great need for the service.

The society’s Rangiora volunteer driver co-ordinator Jan Duffy says managing the driver roster is “tricky at times”.

“Not all drivers are available all the time, so you have to work around their schedule,” she says.

With this in mind the society’s manager of volunteer services Jackie Claridge is hoping to attract more volunteer drivers for the service.

“Anyone who has a bit of time during the week between 9am and 4pm, even one day a week, would be most welcome,” she says.

“The drivers are fantastic, a really, really awesome bunch of people who do a wonderful job. Every day I think about these people and how much they do to make someone else’s life better.”

The society is working with the Canterbury District Health Board to better co-ordinate appointment times for North Canterbury patients to improve the society’s door-to-door transport service. This would enable each driver to take two or three patients into Christchurch for their appointments at once instead of one which is mostly the case now.

Jan became involved with the Cancer Society after her husband Fred died of cancer in 1992. She was inspired to offer her help by the late Kathleen Read, a former chairwoman of the Ashburton Cancer Support Group who was a great help to Jan while Fred was ill when they were living in Hinds.

Jan joined the Ashburton Cancer Support Group in 1993 and has been a volunteer driver for the Cancer Society ever since. She now lives in Rangiora and has been a driver co-ordinator in Rangiora for 10 years.

“You have to have empathy and good listening skills,” she says.

Jan’s daughter Sue Hansen, of Loburn, who works for Nurse Maude in Rangiora, is also a volunteer driver for the Cancer Society. She began helping when Jan did not have enough volunteers for her roster, but she is now a regular on the team.

All the volunteer drivers have to complete an orientation test before they can join the service.

“The Cancer Society want to make sure patients can have confidence in the drivers,” Jan says.

The work is incredibly rewarding with many of the patients becoming friends with the drivers, she says. There is also great camaraderie between the drivers.

“They are so wonderful. There is always someone to say ‘yes’. “