With National Volunteer Week from May 21-28, community-based social welfare organisation Open Support is seeking kind-hearted Sydney-based locals who would like to join its large and diverse volunteer team as it continues to support and help those in need.

The not-for-profit organisation – which provides a variety of support services to vulnerable and disadvantaged clients from across the state with the help of a dedicated team of 200-plus volunteers – is particularly looking for locals aged 18 and over to become volunteer drivers for its Country Care Link service.

Country Care Link is Open Support’s no-cost transport service for regional NSW families, couples and individuals who require vehicle transport when coming to Sydney for medical appointments and hospital stays. With demand increasing as more and more country folk find themselves struggling to meet the costs of travelling to Sydney on top of their health care expenses, Country Care Link now needs additional volunteer drivers to join its team.

“Country Care Link is like a personalised shuttle or taxi service for people of all ages from regional cities and rural areas across NSW who must come to Sydney for medical treatment,” says Country Care Link Coordinator, Sister Jan O’Grady. “The difference is that Country Care Link transport is provided at no-cost to our clients by friendly, fully-trained and licenced volunteer drivers in clean, comfortable vehicles.”

Country Care Link volunteer drivers greet and collect clients on arrival into – and/or departure from – Sydney via rail, bus or air, seven days a week. Current drivers include mums who drive during weekdays, retirees who are available throughout the week, and even executives who work fulltime but enjoy helping others by driving on weekends.

“For many country people, coming to ‘the big smoke’ as they often call it, for health care reasons, is very daunting and they are very relieved to know that they will be met by one of our reliable volunteer drivers,’ adds Sister Jan.

Since the service began in 1992, Country Care Link volunteers have provided thousands of trips for rural people attending health care services in Sydney. Passengers come from right across the state and range from young mums and dads requiring specialist medical care for their new-borns to elderly people needing treatment for ongoing medical issues.

Country Care Link volunteer drivers must have a current driver’s licence and their own car and, as with all Open Support volunteers, must meet the following requirements: be 18 years of age or over; be a resident of Australia; pass a NSW Police Check; and, apply for and pass a Working With Children Check. Open Support also has a number of other volunteer positions available, including guest services roles at Chisholm Cottage, its affordable accommodation service at Westmead.