Yorkshire Ambulance Service’s (YAS) Volunteer Car Service clocked up more than half a million miles last year, and currently more than 80 drivers donate their time to taking patients to outpatient and clinic appointments. It hopes to boost that number to 250 volunteers to expand the service, which currently makes 20,000 trips a month, and help even more people get to hospital.
Jo Halliwell, Associate Director of the Patient Transport Service at YAS, said: “Our Volunteer Car Service drivers offer a valuable service to the Trust, supporting the wider work of our non-emergency Patient Transport Service (PTS) and helping eligible patients to get to and from essential medical appointments.
“The scheme offers the opportunity to make new friends, learn new skills, face new challenges and gain experience volunteering in the NHS. Many of our volunteers have made lifelong friends through their work at the Trust and list meeting new people and doing something worthwhile to help others as some of the key benefits of getting involved.”
Father-of-five and qualified Paramedic Mark Wright knows only too well how volunteering for Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) can lead to bigger, better things – including a full-time career on the frontline emergency service.
Mr Wright, of Scarborough, offered his services as a Volunteer Car Service (VCS) driver when he moved to the area from the Midlands in 2001. He owned a taxi company at the time and a friend suggested the role as a way of getting to know the area, meeting local people and building links with the local communities around his new home.
It was while volunteering for YAS that a member of the team suggested that he consider joining the Service as a full-time PTS Driver.
Two years later he was wearing a YAS uniform and driving the Trust’s vehicles as an employee.
Mr Wright said: “There’s no minimum time that you need to commit to be a VCS driver, but I found that I was enjoying it so much that I was driving pretty much full-time. It was a great way to learn the local geography and meet some great people, it was really rewarding and when the opportunity came to make it a more permanent career I jumped at it.”
Mr Wright’s eldest son, Matthew, aged 20, joined the PTS as an apprentice last year and both work out of Scarborough Ambulance Station.
Mr Wright added: “It’s turned into a real family affair. It’s certainly not something I ever anticipated when I signed up originally, but I still look back on my days as a volunteer driver fondly and it has led to a lifelong career and the opportunity to really make a difference to our local community. Working alongside Matt isn’t too bad either.”
Prospective volunteers must be aged over 18, hold a full UK driving licence with no more than three penalty points and have access to a car with a minimum of four doors.
They must be willing to undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and have an occupational health screening.
For more information visit www.yas.nhs.uk/Volunteering or contact 01924 584019 or [email protected]