A volunteer-led scheme run by Macmillan Cancer Support is looking for new recruits as they aim to support even more people affected by cancer.
Covering Chester, Neston and Ellesmere Port, the Transport Support Scheme takes local people who have transport difficulties to visit family members in hospital and to attend appointments.
Alan Gray, 67, from Chester, is one of the volunteer drivers who helps people affected by cancer to attend their bereavement counselling, complementary therapies or hospital appointments.
He said: “Following major surgery in 2013, I reflected on the wonderful treatment and care I’d received from the medical profession, including my Macmillan nurse, and I realised I wanted to ‘put something back’ so when I saw a link to a new Macmillan scheme asking for volunteer drivers to take folk affected by cancer to appointments I decided to apply.”
Alan, who describes the application process as ‘straightforward’, added: “Following my application, I had an informal interview in a coffee shop with the Macmillan volunteer manager, which was really relaxed, then I had to undertake an online driver’s assessment, mandatory Macmillan training and a DBS check, and then I was ready to go!”
During his time volunteering as a driver, Alan has helped people affected by cancer attend various appointments, including counselling, alternative therapies, self-help groups, and visits to a loved one or for hospital treatment.
Jane Rigney, direct volunteering services manager for North West of England and the Isle of Man, said: “There are many different things to worry about when you are diagnosed with cancer and we hope that this project takes away at least one of those worries by ensuring that people get the help with transport that they need so they don’t have to face cancer alone. Volunteering is such a rewarding way to offer practical support and really make a difference to the lives of people affected by cancer.”
Alan says the scheme provides a real life-line to some people. He said: “For many this is a real God-send, especially for those who are physically weak, emotionally upset or those living in remote rural villages, where public transport is a real challenge with infrequent services. In addition to the transport, there is also an element of being a listening ear, and it gives me great satisfaction to do something for others.”
Alan, who would encourage anyone thinking about volunteering to explore where their strengths lie, added: “There are lots of opportunities to volunteer – an ear to listen, dog walking, driving – it depends what each individual’s gift is, but for me being a Macmillan volunteer driver is a way of helping other folk at a watershed in their lives and it’s a real privilege to ‘share the journey’.”
The Macmillan Transport Scheme can provide transport support to people affected by cancer, and all volunteers receive a full induction, training and support.
If you feel you have what it takes to help support someone affected by cancer then please get in touch with Elaine Smithies on 07710 306676, Jane Rigney on 07980 573817, or visit https://volunteering.macmillan.org.uk/