Today marks the beginning of National Volunteer Week! This year we are celebrating the power of volunteering to enrich our communities, bridge social divides, and create opportunities for meaningful connection.
Noelle O’Donoghue McCaul became an Irish Cancer Society Volunteer driver in 2021 after reading about the service in a local newsletter.
Noelle, who hails from Malahide in North Co. Dublin had recently retired so she decided to take on the role three days a month.
She speaks about her experience as a volunteer driver and some of the wonderful people she has met during her time as a driver.
“Having been initially somewhat apprehensive that it might be emotionally demanding, all of my clients are/have been very upbeat and positive in outlook. We chat about anything and everything, families, pets, social issues , etc. Of course sometimes clients are tired after their treatment and prefer to relax and this drivers respect.
“Since I began I have met many people including a young woman, a mother of two young children. She and her husband came to work in Ireland and a short time later she was diagnosed with cancer. She is living with Stage 4 cancer, works as a nurse part-time and, with her husband, rears her children. Having met her four times over the last two years I look forward to doing so again.
“Another client received her diagnosis during the early months of the Covid Pandemic, not long after her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimers. His condition deteriorated rapidly and he had to go into care. So my client, who does not drive, is very dependent on the Volunteer Driver service to bring her to appointments and to friends to bring her to visit her husband. Again a lady with a very positive outlook on life.
"It’s lovely to meet clients over time to see how they are getting on."
“I drive about 3 days a month. Clients have to attend hospital on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Treatment dictates. Family members are not always available due to responsibilities such as childminding and work. Hospital parking is expensive. Treatment can be long and tiring. For these and other reasons having the service of a Volunteer Driver is one less ‘worry’.
“In 2021 I picked up a client on a cold and dark November morning at 7.00am for an 8.00am appointment. I eventually collected her at 8.15pm that dark and cold evening and dropped her to her home at 9.00pm. Home was a rented room, no family nearby, so no one to “make a cuppa”. I had spent the afternoon meeting my first grandchild for the first time. So two very different days. Why would one not want to do something to make life easier for this lady. I drove her again last summer. It’s lovely to meet clients over time to see how they are getting on.
“For me being a Volunteer driver has been and continues to be a very positive experience. The one thing all the service users have in common is their appreciation of the service.”
If you would like to learn more about the Irish Cancer Society’s Volunteer Driver service, visit: https://www.cancer.ie/cancer-information-and-support/cancer-support/get…
For more information
1800 200 700