As a passenger assistant I usually sit on the back at the very end of the bus and I’m like the chatterbox of the bus! We talk and enjoy the ride. It brightens the week and some people don’t see each other until the next week.
Really it helps people who don’t get out normally because most of the people is over 80, sometimes even in their 90s, so they only get out only one day at the week, and that is when we take them.
Many of them are in a difficult position (wheelchair, problems with walking, etc.) which makes moving around a challenge for them.
They love the part of the tour around the area of getting in the bus and dropping by after their lunch, coffee club or bingo. It’s like a good experience for them and they definitely look forward for it.
Why did you decide to start volunteering with T17?
I knew about Transport 17 since their very beginning on 1984.
My next-door neighbour was the oldest resident in Totley at the time and she came in the Transport 17 as a passenger. When she had days on, because they used to go to the seaside, Chatsworth and around and I wasn’t working, she asked me if I wanted to go with them. So, I used to go with them many times with my neighbour -God bless her, she lived until 100 years old!
Obviously when she passed away, I was still working, but I always said that when I finish work, if Transport 17 is still here I would definitely volunteer with them. And that is exactly what I did.
It’s like honouring and keeping alive a memory, not just of a friend but a testament who should be passed down for and with this community.
What are some of the activities/trips that people usually do?
There are all these different things that they do. Sometimes they have bingo or singing or somebody comes in to do a talk - a lady a few months back from Ukraine was telling them about the Ukraine.
We drop them around 10 A.M-10:30 A.M at the club and pick them up around 1P.M-1:30 P.M so they do get quite a good time in there.
What do you enjoy about volunteering, and what have you gained from it?
Oh, I think I gained a lot. You get to know people and their life. Just because they’re old you think they don’t have nothing what to talk about because they haven’t done anything- but then when you look back at their life there is so much to know about them. One lady is a classical pianist; we had a footballer and the list goes on.
I mean honestly there is a lot, even if you don’t realize that. Just because they’re that old and their legs have gone a bit wobbly, they had such a life.
Giving importance to them, paying attention and the main thing: listening to them. People often don’t listen because they think that they’re in a wheelchair or can’t walk at their very best so they should not have anything to say. Sometimes all what someone wants is somebody to listen to them.
Is there anything else you want to tell us about your experience?
You feel so much better and as I said, you get rewarded in a special way: you get to know about people's life, how they have lived and as I say that is priceless.