Volunteer Driver

Mark Slater

I’ve been a volunteer driver for ARHC since 2017, and in that time I have had the privilege of giving lifts to some seven or eight different people, in each case driving them to and from the Hospice once a week for about two months at a time.

In other words, it’s not an onerous commitment, but it brings me into contact with some fascinating people, and I find it very rewarding.

It’s difficult to describe a typical ‘Arthur Rank day’ because my drives are sometimes on a Tuesday, when the Day Therapy session runs from 10.30am to 1.00pm, and sometimes a Friday, when the session is 10.30 to 3.30. So the day will usually begin with a leisurely breakfast and a few chores at home (including cleaning out my car so my passenger isn’t too shocked by the mess!). I set off around 9.30 or later, having first telephoned my passenger to confirm that they are still going to Day Therapy that day. I have not yet had a cancellation, because they really do seem to love going, and, in many cases, it’s a once-a-week opportunity for some human contact. I always enjoy the journey, and have had some great conversations, ranging from families to films, pets to politics, reading to royalty, life in Cambridge to last night’s TV………. there was even a time, believe it or not, when something called Brexit was a recurring topic of conversation!

Having collected a wheelchair, if needed, from the ARHC reception and signed my patient in, I get them settled comfortably in the DT room, and then, on a Tuesday, I have a clear two and a half hours until I pick them up to go home. In that time, I might take the dog for a walk, or nip into town, or arrange a meeting, or do some much-needed putting practice at the golf club across the road. If I’m doing a Friday drive, the gap between delivering and collecting is four and a half hours, and this is the perfect ‘window’ to meet up with a friend for eighteen holes of golf!

The journey back from ARHC to my passenger’s house can be quieter than the morning run because they are often tired after the socialising and stimulation of the DT session, and I think it’s important to be sensitive to their need for either conversation or silence. But even silence is companionable, as this is a person with whom you begin to build an affectionate bond, and who is appreciative of your readiness to give up your time to ferry them to and from the Hospice. As I mentioned, it’s extremely rewarding, without being in any way a heavy burden, and to anyone who is considering volunteering as a driver, I’d say “Go on, give it a try! I think you’ll love it!”

Mark Volunteer at Arthur Rank Hospice Charity