Retired prison officer Seamus Foy has found a rewarding way to volunteer, as a driver for people undergoing cancer treatment in Dublin.
Seamus saw an ad for the Irish Cancer Society’s Care to Drive scheme in this paper in 2011.
“I wanted to do something to make a difference when I retired. I went along to an open day in the Cuisle Centre, I was very impressed, and I have been impressed ever since,” he said.
He is now one of about 50 trained volunteer drivers in Laois who bring patients to and from their appointments in various Dublin hospitals, in their own cars, reimbursed for petrol.
A list of journeys is emailed, and drivers offer to do whichever suits them, with Seamus typically getting to do about two a month. At least two days’ notice is given to patients, so they have peace of mind before an appointment.
“I look forward to getting a drive. I have met fantastic people, great fighters, they never complain, and they can be very sick,” Seamus said.
“We have a chat on the way, then while they are in the hospital, I head for a walk or around the shops. If it is St James’s I walk in the Phoenix Park,” he says.
He recommends the scheme to anyone with a reliable car and free time.
“I feel as if I am doing something important. When you leave people back home they are so appreciative but all I am doing is volunteering,” he said.
There are many reasons why a cancer patient may need to use the service, such as they may have been advised not to drive by their doctor, or they may have no family living nearby or available on the day to bring them.
Care to Drive was developed in 2008 by the Irish Cancer Society and is now in its fifth year. It is available in 11 hospitals nationwide, with another four by the end of 2013. Last year, the society brought a total of 402 cancer patients on 6,392 journeys.
See www.cancer.ie/how-we-can-help or call 01 2310522.