It’s a Tuesday night and I’m all geared up for my second night of Blood Running. I’ve caught up on sleep, had a filling dinner and given my one-year-old an early bath. I phone in to let “the controller” know that I’m ready. I’m greeted with an automated message to say that we’re closed for the night as no controller is available.
SERV Surrey & South London is a voluntary organisation which benefits from a whole range of people giving their time. My personal reason for volunteering is that I’m a biker, an Advanced Motorcyclist wanting an excuse to get out on the bike. It seemed perfectly natural, a Biker joining a group of “Rider Volunteers” and “Blood Bikes” but what I found surprised me: There’s a massive shortage of volunteers in non-biking roles.
Every night of the year we need a controller to answer the phone, managing the riding and driving volunteers. Without this non-biking role, we grind to a halt. So who does this role? I’ve seen it filled mainly by bikers who would be happy to kit up and brave the elements. They’re bikers who joined the group to deliver blood, they’ve seen the desperate need for controllers and willingly taken on the responsibility but we’re still short of help.
Tonight we had four riders and a driver ready and waiting to provide an invaluable service but with no controller we had to turn all the calls away. Hospitals were forced to find alternate, slower ways of transporting life-saving blood. The real impact of that is that the patients suffer.
SERV Surrey & South London provide training for Controllers and have been working hard to streamline the process. The volunteers I’ve met in the past month have been good people wanting to make a difference. Controlling is a role you could do to support both volunteers and hospital patients without leaving your home.
Every fortnight I’ll be making that phone call to say “I’m ready, where do you want me?” Would you be willing to be the person answering?
This article was written by new volunteer Mat Carey about the closure of our service on the night of Tuesday 2nd June 2015.