Free hospital transport service for cancer patients seeking Falkirk district shoppers’ support

Meadowbank Car 4U chairwoman Anne McDonald (second from left) pictured with volunteers from the charity
Meadowbank Car 4U chairwoman Anne McDonald (second from left) pictured with volunteers from the charity

A charity which provides a free and friendly hospital transport service for cancer patients is hopeful Falkirk district shoppers will support a fundraising drive.

Meadowbank Car 4U has been chosen to benefit from this year’s Co-op Local Community Fund, with 1 per cent of all sales of the store’s own-brand products going to vital local causes and customers receiving a 5 per cent reward themselves.

The Polmont-based organisation was set up three years ago in an effort to reduce the additional stress and hassle of repeat journeys to and from appointments and treatment sessions.

Since its inception, a 39-strong team of Meadowbank Car 4U volunteers have driven more than 80 patients registered with any of Meadowbank Health Centre’s four medical groups to well over 1300 appointments.

Anne McDonald, chairwoman and founder, was inspired by the work of The Driving Force, which has been providing the same type of support for those registered at the Bonnybridge, Banknock, Denny Cross or Carronbank health centres for more than a decade.

Although the Scottish Ambulance Service also offers free transport, patients are only eligible if they require the help of a qualified, two-person ambulance crew, leaving many individuals reliant upon relatives or public transport.

Ms McDonald said: “We aim to reduce the stress felt by patients who, in many cases, have to make daily journeys to Glasgow and/or Edinburgh for radiotherapy or chemotherapy treatment sessions.

“Using Meadowbank Car 4U, they know when a volunteer driver will come to pick them up and also have the assurance that the driver will take them home again.

“At a time when funds for charitable organisations are becoming more difficult to access, we’re incredibly grateful for this opportunity to continue to make a real difference for cancer patients in the Upper and Lower Braes.

“My soap box issue is the cost people have to pay to get to The Beatson, for example, and if you’re not on specific benefits you don’t get the money back.

“We have volunteers who are survivors themselves. We’ve worked out we’ve driven round the world three times!

“We have a driver who had been for treatment himself and he reckoned it would have been £600 in journeys for six weeks — it’s expensive.

“Co-op members can decide which local group they would like to back by going online. If you’re not a member and would like to support us, you can join at your local store or online at www.coop.co.uk.”

While the charity isn’t able to expand its services farther geographically, its volunteers are willing to help launch like-minded projects in the region.

Ms McDonald added: “We are keen to help anyone else who would be interested in setting up a similar charity in their local area.”

Visit www.meadowbankcar4u.com or call 07496 154501 for more information.

For further details on the Co-op Local Community Fund, go to www.coop.co.uk/membership.