Irish Cancer Society are seeking volunteer drivers in the Louth area
The Irish Cancer Society are seeking locally based volunteer drivers to bring cancer patients to and from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital for chemotherapy treatment.
The call for help is part of their Volunteer Driver Service, available to cancer patients across the county who require transport to and from chemotherapy treatment in Drogheda. The service is free to avail of for patients.
Volunteer drivers are paid a contribution towards their fuel, all road toll costs and some refreshments during the day. Required for only one or two drives per month, the Irish Cancer Society say the time requirement involved is minimal.
The Irish Cancer Society’s Volunteer Driver Service is now available in 23 hospitals nationwide with the Society’s 1,217 drivers bringing 1,345 patients to and from 12,156 appointments, covering more than 1.2 million kilometres in 2017 alone. Now in its tenth year, the demand for the service continues to grow.
"The Volunteer Driver Service allows cancer patients to access free transport to and from their chemotherapy treatments, removing the worry, difficulty and financial burden of travelling at an already stressful time," Gail Flinter, the Irish Cancer Society's Patient Travel and Financial Support Manager said.
"This is a door to door service with local drivers driving local patients to and from their treatments."
One of those volunteer drivers is Dundalk man Charles Sweeney. Since starting to drive just over two years, he has completed fifty drives to date.
"I started driving for the programme in November 2015 because I know first-hand how important the service is," he said. "My wife used it when she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment and all of the clients who I have driven to their chemotherapy appointments really appreciate the service.
"After I retired I saw an ad in my local paper looking for drivers so I decided to sign up."
Gail Flinter added that while the Society have a network of drivers across the country, they require more in the Louth area in order to provide for those cancer patients attending Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.
"We have a fantastic network of volunteer drivers around the country who are provided with ongoing training and support but in order to run the service for chemotherapy patients travelling to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, we really need more drivers.
"I would appeal to anyone in the area who has a couple of free days a month to get in touch with us. They will become part of a remarkable team of volunteers, without whom this valuable service simply would not function."
Patients undergoing chemotherapy who would like to avail of the service or who would like further information can contact their healthcare professional in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital to refer them to the service. Alternatively they can call the Volunteer Driver Service team on 01 231 0522, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cancer.ie.
The North Louth Hospice also provides a volunteer driver service for cancer patients in north Louth, having done so for the past 15 years.
It is regarded as one of the association's most important services, offering an alternative to public transport or costly taxi services. If you would like to become a volunteer driver with the NLH, you can call the hopsice office on 042 9328533.