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Volunteer Terri Davison is off to pick up Colin. She has been a Community Transport driver for just over a year.
“I was looking for volunteer work online and found Red Cross. I only work a couple of hours a week and wanted to get out and meet more people. The social side of it appealed to me,” she says.
Red Cross’ Community Transport programme is a lifeline for people who need to get to important appointments but struggle to manage their own transport. Every year, hundreds of trained and dedicated Red Cross volunteer drivers transport thousands of people to their appointments, providing a supportive and friendly experience.
Driver Ken Hand and volunteer support person Christine Williams have been working for Red Cross for many years. Christine started not long after the Christchurch earthquakes while Ken started volunteering with Red Cross Meals on Wheels when he was still working.
“I used to have a two-hour lunch break and did a Meals on Wheels run in that break. I had a very understanding and flexible employer,” he grins. “My job was a sole position, I didn’t get to see a lot of people. I would lose the knack of communication without volunteering.”
After retiring, he changed to Community Transport. “With Community Transport I give one whole day to Red Cross to keep my mind occupied.”
“I like people, I like working with people,” says Christine as she explains her reasons for volunteering. “I’ve been a teacher all my life, I have always been with people.”
Her love for people shows in the way she engages with her passengers. At a retirement home, Christine is taking her time getting Barbara and her walking frame into the van, tying a loose shoelace and zipping up the woman’s jersey when the wind outside is a bit chilly. Christine moves to the back, to be better able to talk to her passengers; from the conversation it is obvious she is familiar what is going on in their lives. The people in the van appear to be more like a group of friends than individual passengers, chatting among each other.
The condition of the people who use Community Transport means they need to be picked up pretty much from their doorsteps, which can be tricky with the minibus. However one can only admire Ken’s driving skills, parking in gaps that anyone else may deem too small for the big vehicle.
“Ken is better than a taxi driver,” passenger Wendy comments as he smoothly backs into a narrow driveway.
Across town, Terri drops Colin off at the Evergreen Club at Delta Community Trust, a social activities programme that keeps people like Colin connected.
“Many of our Evergreen Club members have mobility issues,” Kathryn Wilson, Manager of Evergreen Club, says. “They can’t just hop on a bus. For us, the service Community Transport provides is key.”
A stroke, three different cancers and a car accident have limited Colin’s mobility. “I’m restricted in what I can do, due to my health. It’s hard for me to join clubs and make friends. I love coming here. I would be lost without it.”
If you would like to become a Community Transport volunteer driver and make a difference in the lives of people like Colin, please visit our website, contact your local Red Cross service centre or call 0800 RED CROSS (733 276).