UnitingCare launches 'Wheels to Wellbeing'

ARARAT UnitingCare is launching the 'Wheels to Wellness' campaign designed to increase the number of volunteer drivers who ensure that the aged and disabled people within the community can attend medical appointments out of town.

UnitingCare Ballarat is a not-for-profit organisation with an office in Ararat, situated at 277 Barkly Street.

They provide Home and Community Care funded cars and a group of dedicated volunteer drivers.

The service allows eligible clients to be picked up at their door and transported to scheduled appointments at places such as Stawell, Beaufort, Hamilton, Geelong, Melbourne and outlying areas into Ararat.

The 'Wheels to Wellness' campaign is aiming to increase the number of volunteer drivers to support the local UnitingCare team.

The transport program has three co-ordinators Glenda Hucker, who has been with Ararat UnitingCare for the past 13 years, Liz Redpath, two years and Grant Thomas who joined the team recently.

Mr Thomas said many aged and disabled people within our communities are unable to access or travel with private or public transport.

"Without the support from our Agency and our volunteer drivers, many vulnerable people would be unable to meet their medical appointments which are often vital to their health and wellbeing," he said.

"Our current team of trained and dedicated drivers all perform a terrific service and they deserve the support of more volunteer drivers who can also take our clients to what can often be life saving treatment.

"We need to increase the number of drivers joining our team to share the load. Our clients are all extremely grateful for the opportunity to get to their appointments safely."

Clients are transported to their program in one of UnitingCare's two new and comfortable cars.

Mr Thomas said sound training and real support is given to all of volunteers who join.

"Drivers choose their own availabilities and destinations and receive meal allowances where applicable and they all find it personally rewarding knowing that they are making a real difference to peoples lives through this service," he said.

"Opportunities arise throughout the year to join in socially with the rest of the team."

A driver's forum will be held at the St Andrews meeting room, Barkly Street (opposite Marian College) on Tuesday, September 2 between 10am and 2.30pm to enable the current agency volunteer drivers to collectively exchange ideas and experiences whilst providing continuous improvement to the Community Transport Program.

Still with the focus firmly fixed on aged and disability services, the team is also keen to facilitate the formation of an informal Men's Group in Ararat to just allow men to enjoy social contact amongst each other and to share life experiences and tall tales.

Anyone interested can contact the office on 5352 1059.

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