Vancouver falls well behind rest of Lower Mainland in volunteer cancer driver recruitment

FINDING volunteer drivers to take cancer patients to their appointments has been a success story right across the Lower Mainland for the Surrey-based Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society (VCDS) – except in Vancouver.

The society is at a loss to explain why recruitment uptake in Vancouver is a relative failure next to every other community, and they are appealing for ready and willing volunteers living in Vancouver to get in touch.

VCDS most recently assumed local cancer driver services from the Freemasons in Burnaby, Richmond and Vancouver, fully rounding out its presence across the entire Metro Vancouver region. VCDS also operates in the Fraser Valley communities of Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack. To date, they have successfully recruited the drivers needed almost everywhere, but that success has so far eluded them in Vancouver, says VCDS President Bob Smith.

“In the most populous city in the region, we have only 10 trained drivers ready for the road. Ultimately, we’re going to need about 100,” Smith says. “It’s hard to understand what makes Vancouver so different, and if we don’t attract enough Vancouver volunteers to rely on, we may need to recruit drivers from outlying areas like Delta, Surrey and the North Shore to serve Vancouver’s cancer patients, which isn’t ideal.

“Right now, we do about 1,000 trips a month across the region but once we get Vancouver running, we’ll more than double to 2,200 trips a month. Almost everyone has been touched by cancer in some way, so we really need local Vancouver drivers who can help get cancer patients to their regular treatments.”

Volunteers are paid 50 cents per kilometre to pick up cancer patients by appointment with their own vehicles, take them to the hospital or a clinic for treatment and drive them back home. Many patients are elderly frail, often live alone, and can’t depend on family or friends to drive them on a regular basis.

Volunteer drivers from all across the Lower Mainland are needed, but especially in Vancouver. More details and sign-up information are available at volunteercancerdrivers.ca.

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