In the first of our #VolunteersWeek blogs, Paul Hagan, a volunteer driver at Merton Community Transport, tells his story of volunteering in Community Transport.
Having decided to take early retirement in late 2014 I was looking for some form of voluntary work that would not only get me out of the house but which would also give me a degree of satisfaction.
Now that I had time on my hands, I decided to see if I might be of service to Merton Community Transport (MCT) and its clients. I gave the office a call and said I was interested in being a volunteer driver and would they be interested? They said they would and I was duly invited in for a chat/interview, which was, on one level informal but on another level more serious. I was asked about my background and experience, in order, quite correctly I assume, to ascertain my suitability.
Then, after the usual background checks to make sure I was who I said I was, I was asked to attend a 2 day training course, which all potential MCT drivers must undertake, known as MIDAS training. This proved to be an enjoyable and insightful 2 days but also very thorough, covering both theory and practice, culminating in first, a written theory test then a practical test of your driving ability. Only after successful completion of both parts of the course are you deemed competent to drive. I’m pleased to report that I was indeed successful in the completion of the MIDAS training, evidenced by my being presented with a certificate proving such!
Since passing the MIDAS training I have been a regular, at least weekly, often much more, driver for MCT. I have done lots of local jobs which have been varied and very interesting. They include picking up individual clients from their homes to take them to hospital appointments or maybe to visit loved ones in care or rest homes or possibly to take individuals to day or adult education centres.
As well as these local jobs I’ve also been much further afield! This year I have been the main driver for the popular Excursion Club which has seen me driving clients to all manner of places including Bognor, Eastbourne, Hastings, Windsor and Chichester. Hopefully these trips have been enjoyable days out not just for me but for the clients as well!
As well as the Excursion Club I now do a regular job every Wednesday for a very jolly group of clients who call themselves “The Happy Shoppers”. And what a happy lot they are too! I pick each happy one of them up at their individual addresses and then head for the Sava Centre in Colliers Wood where they all disembark to happily go about doing their weekly shop. I return a couple of hours later to take them and their shopping back home. Trusting that a happy and enjoyable time has been had by all.
I can honestly say that I have enjoyed just about every minute of all the work I’ve done for MCT. I know for a fact it has helped and done me the world of good. Knowing the work is necessary and worthwhile has given me a sense of purpose, fulfilment and great satisfaction.
I’ve met lots of different people, discovered lots of places I didn’t know existed before and, most of all, had my eyes opened to the very real need local communities have for organisations such as MCT and the very valuable service which they provide to their community.
Do you have a Volunteers Week story to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org