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Have you the drive to be a Carecars volunteer at Southend Hospital?

15 January 2018

Volunteering

Southend Hospital is seeking more volunteer drivers to take patients to and from their hospital appointments and would love to hear from you if you are good with people, have some spare time and have a clean driving licence.

A rise in the number of patients using the service, along with several drivers who have stepped down from their role, has led to a shortage of 'Carecars' drivers, particularly in the Leigh, Westcliff and central Southend areas.

Jane O'Connell, Voluntary Services Manager, explained how important the service is and what a real difference it makes for patients: "Carecars is ideal for patients because it takes away the stress of getting to the hospital or clinic and patients and their families don't have to worry about parking. Our Carecars drivers and booking clerks do a brilliant job."

Patients pay a donation of 50p a mile to use the service, with voluntary booking clerks finding drivers as close to the patient's address as possible. Patients with wheelchairs must always be accompanied by a friend, family member or carer.

Drivers often build up a rapport with their grateful regulars, for example cancer patient Nicholas Wyre, 56, from Southchurch is driven to and from his numerous radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions, blood tests and other outpatient appointments by Terry Lundy, 77, and Louis Huntley, 69, both from Shoebury.

Nicholas, who is making steady progress and is hoping to return to work soon, said: "When you get told you have cancer, you get swamped with appointments. One of my big worries was getting to these places on time.

"I didn't have to worry - Louis and Terry have been fantastic. They've never been late, and it's great to have a familiar face. There have been times where I have kept Louis waiting as they've asked me to see the nurse or have another blood test, and not once has that bloke ever complained."

"I enjoy what I do," says Terry, a Carecars driver for the past four years. "It's nice to know you can help, it gets you out of the house and it's a great team."

Some Carecars drivers also help out at the renal unit and chemotherapy departments. To find out more, please call 01702 435555 ext 6135 or email volunteers@southend.nhs.uk