Hospice in 'critical' appeal for volunteer drivers to transport patients

A charity has made an urgent call for volunteers to transport its patients to and from appointments.

Nicki Webb who works in the charity's transport department.
Nicki Webb who works in the charity's transport department.

Severn Hospice, which has two main sites in Telford and Shrewsbury, relies on volunteers to take patients without transport to and from their much-needed clinic and consultation appointments.

But since the pandemic, the number of volunteer drivers has dropped and it says that things are now reaching a critical stage.

Last year, the hospice’s volunteers and drivers covered a total 32,000 miles.

During 2021, volunteer drivers spent 3,200 hours in the cars – equal to four and a half months – and in the past patients have been taken as far away as London and Blackpool.

Sandra Morris, the hospice’s day services team leader, said: “Our volunteer drivers are a valuable service and integral to assisting patients to access all our hospice services.

“Since the pandemic we have had a few volunteers leave for a number of reasons, and would now like to recruit more as soon as possible to carry on their amazing work

“Due to these unprecedented times, it is the first time in our history that our transport team has had a shortage of volunteer drivers, so we are very keen that this does not start affecting patient services.

“Because of the geography of where we cover, we need transport volunteers and transport escorts from all over Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.

“Appointments range from coffee mornings, creative therapy and complementary therapy appointments, nurse led clinics, nurse practitioner clinics, doctors’ clinics.”

She added that volunteers can specify how much time they would like to give.

She said: “It can be anything from a few hours to a few days and volunteers can either use their own vehicles or use ours. Full training is given, and they would be joining a really friendly team.”

Several transport volunteers have been with the hospice for 25 years and two have just retired with 30 years’ service.

Nicki Webb is from the hospice’s transport team and works closely with the volunteer drivers.

“I love being a driver for the hospice,” she said. “I go all over the place picking people up and it is great to meet so many lovely people. Bringing them to the hospice for their treatments, consultations or coffee mornings is so important.

“Our volunteers all say the same thing: they get so much out of being drivers or transport escorts.”

There are five vehicles in the fleet: two ambulances and three wheelchair accessible vehicles, which have all been funded by generous donations or legacies from individuals or companies or groups.

For more information about becoming a volunteer driver or transport escort, contact the transport office for an informal chat on 01743 261523.

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