MORE than 25 volunteer drivers have assisted elderly community members get to 150-plus medical appointments since March last year – an initiative run through the Romsey and Lancefield neighbourhood houses.
Project co-ordinator Fiona Lang said the idea began when community consultations revealed a need to help vulnerable people get to essential medical appointments – many who might struggle to use public transport or manage the costs of a taxi.
“Drivers have taken passengers as far as Bendigo or to Melbourne CBD,” Ms Lang said.
“Our sustainable model asks travellers to donate towards fuel costs and we’ve recently secured a grant from Bendigo Bank to further support our drivers.”
Jocelyn Coward, who uses the service frequently, said she would be lost without it.
“I’ve been using the service right from the beginning before it officially started,” she said.
“I’ve used it to get to Sunshine a few times. Originally a couple of girlfriends or my daughter could take me but it was a struggle to get over there.”
The Romsey resident said it was also a great way to socialise within the community.
“It’s been good to get to know different people in the community that I wouldn’t have met before – it’s great social interaction – I probably burn their ears sometimes,” she laughed.
Driver John Todd said he started volunteer driving two months ago.
“I wanted to give back to the community – it’s a great way to get involved,” he said.
Ms Lang said it was wonderful to have so much community support for the initiative.
“Our drivers have been amazing, in addition the Zonta Club of Kyneton donated a car from a private beneficiary and the car is generously maintained free of charge by Lancefield Automotive,” she said.
The co-ordinator added the neighbourhood houses were always looking for additional volunteer drivers or volunteers to assist with the administration of the service.
She said people who needed the service should contact her at either Romsey Neighbourhood House on 5429 6724 or Lancefield 5429 1214 for more information.