Hemel Hempstead woman makes a difference through community transport
Bethany has been volunteering for Community Action Dacorum
A woman from Hemel Hempstead has been making a difference in her community as a volunteer driver for Community Action Dacorum.
Bethany Southey has been supporting the Community Transport team during the coronavirus pandemic by doing grocery shopping for the organisation's Store2Door clients and helping people access essential health appointments through the Community Car scheme.
The 25-year-old, who is a deputy manager of a restaurant and hotel in Berkhamsted, was furloughed at the beginning of lockdown and decided to apply to volunteer to help others.
She said: "My job is very people focused so I was missing seeing people and I wanted to be able to see the community and help them a bit plus I didn’t want to feel completely isolated with just my partner and myself.
Although Bethany has now returned to work, she is still volunteering on her days off.
She said: "I am now back at work but still carrying on volunteering as I really enjoy doing it. I usually have 2 days off in the week as I work shifts and at weekends, so it is easy for me to fit it in around my work.
"Sometimes I don’t start work until 3pm so can either do a shop or take someone to a hospital appointment in the morning.
"The best bit for me is meeting new people and having a chat with them.
"You also get to meet a different generation and a sense of feeling that you are helping the community a little bit.
"It’s good for my mental health and wellbeing and takes me away from the stress of work and home life for a bit. I have also become more conscious of my driving.
"The first hospital trip I did the gentleman said that he felt very safe all the way.
"I told my parents and they said “wow”. It made me so proud."
Bethany has been helping to take people to hospital appointments as well.
She said: "I also worry about the clients when doing the health appointments, will they find the department they are going to and/or find me when they come out?
"I helped one lady was quite frail and unsteady on her feet.
"She had an appointment at Watford General hospital which can be a bit of a nightmare to navigate round!
"When she got out of the car, she clung to me and asked if I could take her into the waiting room as she was afraid of falling over.
"I explained to the receptionist, who could see how frail she was, and they let me take her in and sit with her.
"I would definitely recommend volunteering to others particularly younger people. It can look good on your CV and help when applying for a job.
"It’s also something different to do. I think you get to see a different angle on life.
"My family and friends think that it’s really good that I have been volunteering during the pandemic.
"My Grandma is always asking me about all the people that I have met. My partner has been very supportive and has helped me out a couple of times with planning my route when I have had to go somewhere different."
Bethany and the other volunteers like her, have made a difference to the lives of people across Dacorum and beyond.
Deborah Fogden, Community Transport manager at Community Action Dacorum, said:
"For many people who have been isolating over the past few weeks, the worry of how they will get to their hospital appointments is a big deal.
"The Community Car service reduces anxiety in its users and their families.
"One such example, Jean explained that her daughter lives 50 miles away and her son abroad so getting to Watford General Hospital for an appointment on her own would be very difficult for her."
Jean said: "My eyes aren’t so good so being taken by Bethany made the journey so much more pleasant.
"She is such a lovely girl, we got on so well chatting away I really enjoyed going with her."
Deborah added: "It’s for people like Jean and all of the Community Car users that we all thank Bethany and her volunteer colleagues for their wonderful work during lockdown!"