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The one-hour drive along State Highway 1 from Balclutha to Dunedin is a road Olive knows all too well. Health issues require Olive to frequently travel to the Dunedin hospital. Unable to drive up long distances, she relies on New Zealand Red Cross Community Transport service to attend her medical appointments.
“It’s very reliable – you know they’re going to be there and on time! As soon as you get your next appointment, you ring up Karon, the coordinator – she is very nice and she sorts a driver for me,” says Olive.
The road may be the same, but each trip is different for Olive – which ever Red Cross volunteer is driving her around or who the other passengers are in the car always make it a new journey. These trips are also a time when Olive receives moral support after hearing difficult news from the doctors.
“It’s making a really big difference. And you get to know the drivers. I have to know them, it is a stressful time for me, but I have to deal with it, and it helps having Beverly [her driver on the day of the interview] and others driving me,” explains Olive.
New Zealand Red Cross’ Community Transport service based in Gore has been running in the region for the last ten years, helping countless people to get to their medical appointments.
For people like Olive, our Community Transport service is their last resource. Balclutha doesn’t have public transport Olive can use. While there are some tourist buses, the timing doesn’t often work and she still needs to get from her house to the bus stop, then from the bus stop in Dunedin to the hospital.
“Well, I don’t know what I would have done over the years if it hadn’t been here, you know, they’re always there for you. It’s a great service,” adds Olive.
Our friendly drivers pick up passengers from their home. Sometimes, they even go to the waiting room with the passengers, reassuring them that there are not alone in their health journey.
For Beverly, one of our Community Transport volunteers, the service makes a huge difference in her community.
“It’s making the impossible, possible! If you’re lucky enough to have friends who can drive you, you can’t ask them all the time, it’s a whole day away. If you have appointments every month or every week, or your friends work or have children, it just doesn’t work,” says Beverly.
Beverly is one of the many dedicated volunteers making up the service based in Gore. She likes volunteering her time to help her community.
“I’ve enjoyed every trip. It’s lovely to be doing this and to volunteer my time while meeting new people. And we never know when the tables will be turned and if we may need this!” says Beverly laughing.
Our friendly Community Transport volunteer drivers help people all around New Zealand who, for medical, mobility or financial reasons, find it difficult to get to appointments. Red Cross provides this service for free. Our drivers are trained in first aid and provide assistance to and from the vehicle.
If you or a friend or family member have trouble attending an appointment without assistance or for financial reasons, call your local Red Cross service centre or ring 0800 RED CROSS (733 276) and ask about Community Transport in your area.