Colin volunteers as a hospital car driver as well as a trustee for Community Care North Bucks - two roles which he says have helped him to build communication skills and empathy.

How did you find out about the roles?

I registered with the Volunteer Matching Service at the beginning of the pandemic and found roles with a couple of charities. I still had time to offer so, when the Volunteer Matching Service’s weekly email referred to a driving role taking patients to hospital, I put my hand up and joined the Hospital Car Service which operates under Community Care North Bucks. The following year I was invited to join the Board of trustees. The Hospital Car Service has also won the Proud of Bucks Award for Best Community Group in the Buckingham and Villages Community Impact Board category, and Community Care North Bucks was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2018. 

What are your volunteer roles and what do they involve?

I drive patients, who have been referred to us by their GP in North Bucks, to and from hospital appointments one or two times a week. Volunteer drivers pick the patients up from their home, take them to their hospital appointments and then take them home again. They are my favourite couple of hours in the week – I can honestly say I get far more out of volunteering than I put in. 

In the trustee role, I help with organisational skills to run the organisation effectively, and the discipline around governance and compliance.  

Why do you volunteer?

Covid taught us the importance of local community, and to help people. For me, volunteering is about the connections you make with people, and in providing much-needed community services.  

What attracted you to these roles? 

The driver’s role provided flexibility as volunteers choose what the levels of commitment and travel distances. It doesn’t matter how old you are or your background, you can get involved. It’s delivered by the community, for the community.   

The trustee role allows me to transfer my skills and experience. I had built up a lot of skills in my corporate background that I could bring to the role, particularly business skills – specifically IT and accountancy – as well as financial discipline and skills around motivating people which has always been a passion at work. It’s an exciting time of development and growth for the charity, looking at the future strategy and how we can expand the services we offer and fundraise to meet the high demand. 

The roles mean I volunteer with people who are passionate: there is no lack of enthusiasm!  

Have you found anything surprising about the roles?

I wasn’t expecting to get as much out of volunteering –  the sense of worth and the feeling that I truly get out more than I give. I have really enjoyed the time I have been volunteering in these roles, and others, since I started volunteering four years ago.  

What skills have you developed since joining the organisation?

Communication and empathy. When picking up a passenger, I might be the first person they have spoken to all week and these skills really come into play. I have also learned, through training, about safeguarding potentially vulnerable people – how to spot the signs and respond to them.  

What difference does your volunteering make to others?

We connect with people. This is not just a taxi service – we take people to appointments, wait for them until they finish, and return them home. We chat with them in the car and it’s lovely to connect on a human level, share stories and histories, particularly during a time that’s potentially not very pleasant for the patient.  

Would you recommend volunteering and, if so, why?

Absolutely – it’s great to give back and do something positive. However small the contribution, you are making a difference and it’s a great thing. As long as I am fit and able, I want to carry on volunteering. 

Additional information: 

Updated on December 14, 2023

Image courtesy of St Francis's Children Society