Yorkshire Ambulance Service calls for more volunteer drivers

Malcolm Robinson (centre) being presented with a We Care Award in recognition of his contribution to the YAS volunteer car service (s).
Malcolm Robinson (centre) being presented with a We Care Award in recognition of his contribution to the YAS volunteer car service (s).

To help patients reach vital hospital appointments across the district, the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) is calling for volunteers to join its car service.

There are currently more than 80 drivers giving up their free time to drive patients, covering more than 20,000 journeys each month and travelling 500,000 miles in 2013.

One man who has devoted his time to the volunteer car service is former taxi driver Malcolm Robinson.

He said: “The role offers a good opportunity for those who enjoy helping people and although I put the hours in, most volunteers do a few journeys here and there when they can.

“The most important thing about volunteering in this capacity is the difference you can make to people.

“I’m no Mother Teresa, I can’t solve everyone’s problems and I wouldn’t attempt to try, but I can be the friendly face that picks them up every Tuesday morning.

“These are people, not packages wrapped in brown paper, and I’m your usual family man – not a do-gooder or anyone particularly special.”

Now 66 years old, Mr Robinson began donating his services in 1981 and was recognised in the Trust’s 2013 We Care Awards for his efforts.

Volunteers like Mr Robinson support the Trust’s non-emergency work, and YAS is hoping to increase its numbers to 250 by spring 2015.

Associate Director of the Trust’s Patient Transport Service Jo Halliwell said: “Our volunteers covered over half a million miles last year, mainly in Yorkshire and the Humber but also including a handful of trips to Exeter, London, Guildford and Scotland – a truly amazing result and something that is greatly appreciated by both the Trust and our patients.

“Malcolm is very modest about the hours of service he donates to the Trust and he is thought of as very special to us and those he transports each week.

“Without the help of kind individuals like Malcolm, many people would struggle to get to essential appointments and we are delighted to have him as a member of the volunteer car service team.”

To join the car service, volunteers need to be aged 18 or over, hold a valid, full UK driving licence with no more than three penalty points, have access to a four-door car, and undertake a screening process. Full training is provided and mileage is reimbursed. For more information, go to www.yas.nhs.uk/OurServices/Volunteering/VCS.html or call 01924 584019.