The pressure is on to ensure people living in Huntly can get to and from Hamilton for lifesaving cancer treatment.
Cancer Society volunteer Jim Coleman coordinates the free volunteer driving service in Huntly. Every Thursday afternoon Coleman gets a list of people in Huntly who have appointments in Hamilton the following week. It’s up to him to get on the phone and organise transport for each and every one.
There are currently five volunteer drivers based in Huntly, but Coleman says he’d like to see more people join the service to take the pressure off the small group of dedicated volunteers.
Coleman began volunteering for the Cancer Society in 2016, one year after wife Trish passed away from cancer and his own journey through treatment for prostate cancer.
“Knowing what it’s like to go through cancer, you don’t want to let anybody down.”
Driving people who need cancer treatment from Huntly to Hamilton has its own set of challenges, like having to leave that little bit early to compensate for any delays along the way, says Coleman.
But, for the people undergoing treatment the free service is vital.
“If someone’s had a four-hour treatment, they’re whacked. The service means they’re not stressing about getting to the hospital and back.
“We are there to support them and give them peace of mind. And if they want to take a support person with them, we can take them too.”
Volunteer development manager for the Cancer Society, Nicola Bowe, says the charity would not be able to do the work it does without volunteers like Coleman.
“Volunteers come from all walks of life. The only qualifications needed are reliability, good people skills and the ability to hold up their end of a friendly chat.
“Our volunteers tell us they’re inspired to give back and be there for people in their community who are doing it tough,” says Bowe.
Coleman agrees: “The reward is knowing I helped somebody. That’s it.”
The Cancer Society celebrates the dedication of volunteers like Jim Coleman this National Volunteer Week, 16-22 June. To get involved and make a difference in your community check out our volunteering opportunities here.