Why I volunteer...
“I first heard about Northumbria Blood Bikes on a visit to Dobbies Garden Centre. There was a bike there and 2 volunteers raising awareness of the charity and collecting donations. They certainly raised awareness as I admit I had never heard of them. I asked a few questions and collected a leaflet then went on to look at the website once I was home. I remember saying ‘I’ve never, ever ridden a bike but I can talk!’ I think I made up my mind there and then to volunteer for them. I was working full time at this point but with less than 2 years to retirement so it became The Plan.
In 2017 I completed 27 years with the Civil Service and put The Plan into operation. After attending an induction and controller workshop in January 2018 I observed a shift as controller with Bill Deacon. I remember as the phones went live at 7pm being terrified as 6 calls came in one after another and was certain I would never be able to do this. Bill then came to mentor me through my first shift and of course, I COULD do this! I was signed off as able to work alone and after the first solo shift where all the riders and drivers helped me if I was unsure about anything, I became more confident. I fit in a couple of controller shifts a week as well as looking after my 2 young grandchildren and my other voluntary job with Tyne and Wear Archives. I absolutely love it! As a controller I’m in the unique position of seeing where everyone is and where they’re going. This means, hopefully, I can make the most cost effective decisions for new jobs as they come in, thereby delivering a better service. I think it is this aspect of the role that I enjoy most.
It is a little odd being able to speak to but not see those on shift, so I try to get to meetings and put names to faces. Everyone is so friendly and always, at a gathering, they will come and introduce themselves to me.
Why do I do this? In 1994 I received a blood transfusion. I didn’t question how this was made to happen at 10pm on a Thursday night. Now I know I had actually cost the NHS quite a bit of money to get that blood. Our NHS is brilliant, but it needs our help. This is something I can do to help. How many people can you say they’ve done something to help the NHS? All Northumbria Blood Bike members can say they have. And, of course, it’s one of the few times in my life when I can tell some men where to go and they do!
My name is Carol Nelson and that’s why I volunteer for Northumbria Blood Bikes.”
To sign up or for more information on the roles visit: http://www.northumbriabloodbikes.org.uk/support/volunteer