July 31st, 2020

Cat Air


Way back at the start of lockdown, I registered for the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme - partly because it seemed like the right thing to do, partly because it would allow me to go out on my motorbike at a time when non-essential travel was frowned on.

You can volunteer to give patients a lift to hospital, deliver prescriptions or chat with people in isolation. Since it wouldn't be appropriate to give vulnerable people a pillion ride, and the idea of ringing a total stranger for a chat fills me with horror, I signed up as an NHS Transport Volunteer and downloaded the Good SAM app to my phone.

Nothing happened for several months, then a couple of weeks ago a siren alert sounded, scaring the pants off me, and I fumbled around in the app trying to find out what to do.

I phoned the person in need, who couldn't hear me properly, had no idea who I was and what I wanted, and was clearly worried by the whole thing. (I had assumed I would be talking only to pharmacists, not actual people.) I hung up, selected the option to pass the call to another volunteer, and was so traumatised that the next couple of times I got an alert I refused it immediately.

This morning I got another alert, for someone just a couple of streets away, and decided it was time to change. I called the provided number, established that their prescription was waiting in the pharmacy at Sainsbury's, collected and delivered it.

An hour later I got another alert and accepted it. It turned out to be another Sainsbury's job, so I regretted being so eager on the first one.

I'm not sure why things have suddenly kicked off after months of silence, but I signed up to do my bit and now I'm finally doing it.