NeighbourCare.JPGHampshire Hospitals’ chief executive is encouraging people who are interested in doing some community work to consider volunteering for Basingstoke NeighbourCare.

Basingstoke NeighbourCare’s team of volunteer drivers provide a vital service for hundreds of elderly people across Basingstoke, Tadley, Sherfield-on-Loddon and Old Basing, enabling them to get to hospital and GP appointments, but also exercise clubs, social clubs and supermarkets to do their shopping.

The charity provides transport for more than 3,000 journeys a year, with the destination for around half of them being Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital.

More and more people want to use the service, and to ensure that they are able to keep up with the demand, additional volunteers are needed.

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, as well as hospitals in Andover and Winchester, said: “If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to help your community by doing some voluntary work, you can really make a difference to people across north Hampshire by volunteering for Basingstoke NeighbourCare.

“All of us at Hampshire Hospitals really appreciate the fantastic work done by the charity and its volunteers. Not only do they provide transport to hospital appointments, but by helping elderly people to attend things like exercise clubs and by enabling them to do their shopping, they play a part in helping to prevent more people getting ill and needing our help.”

Funding towards the service is taken in the form of a donation and drivers stay with the person they have given a lift to, meaning they are not left to wait after their appointments, as they may have to if they travel by taxi.

Peter Robson, a trustee of Basingstoke NeighbourCare, said: “There is more demand for our services because the population of the area is increasingly ageing. We have taken on 170 new clients over the last year and the need for our service is constant.

“If we are unable to recruit more drivers, we won’t be able to help all of the people we would like to help. We don’t like doing it, but there are times when we have to tell people that we are sorry, but there is nobody available to help them.

“I am a volunteer driver myself and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it. You get to know the people you are driving and it’s nice to know that you are making a difference for them.”

Volunteering is flexible, with drivers choosing to do as few or as many trips as they want, allowing them to fit it in around their lives. All volunteers are reimbursed their fuel costs and undergo a full induction, including DBS and reference checks.

Find out more about Basingstoke NeighbourCare and register your interest in volunteering by visiting their website, You can also call 01256 423855 for a chat about what is involved.