Orange Cancer Council is seeking volunteer drivers to help people with cancer get to treatment after standing down about 90 per cent of its drivers.
Cancer Council NSW Regional and Rural Communities manager Brenna Smith said due to health risks posed by COVID-19, the organisation temporarily stood down volunteer drivers in the Transport to Treatment program.
"Unless we urgently recruit more volunteers under the age of 60, cancer patients won't get to their treatment - it's as simple as that," she said.
Cancer Council Western NSW community lead Ricky Puata said people were still being diagnosed with cancer daily.
"We were really concerned about the health of all our volunteers. We decided to stand down all our volunteers who are over 60, that's about 90 per cent of our volunteers," Mr Puata said.
"[There were] about 25 volunteers that we've temporarily stood down but we are really confident that once the COVID-19 situation lifts and goes away we will be very much encouraging those drivers to jump back in and support the service as they normally would."
However, he said not having enough volunteer drivers was an issue because people with cancer still need to get to treatment and not everyone can drive or has someone who can drive them.
He said Orange was one of five NSW branches from which there were 3129 trips combined, 247,000 kilometres driven and 284 cancer patients and their carers helped through the Transport to Treatment program last year.
People are still being diagnosed with cancer each and every do and they will still require transport for treatment.Cancer Council NSW, Ricky Puata
"Quite a lot of cancer patients are recurring, they might do two weeks of treatment and come back in a month and do two more weeks of treatment," Mr Puata said.
He said that as a temporary measure, employees and office volunteers were driving the most critical patients to their treatment but that provided other issues for the organisation so four more volunteers were needed in Orange.
He said the organisation was looking for people aged under 60 who could to drive patients one day a week and the patients came from across Orange but also up to 200 kilometres away from communities such as Cowra, Parkes, Forbes and Dubbo.
"People are still being diagnosed with cancer each and every do and they will still require transport for treatment," Mr Puata said.
Precautions will include a limit of two people per vehicle and the vehicles being regularly cleaned.
"We are really conscious that the vehicles are cleaned very well for all the clients who are in the cars and their drivers," Mr Puata said.
To help find volunteer drivers, Cancer Council NSW has partnered with Play for Lives, an initiative led by former Socceroo and football analyst Craig Foster.
The initiative is to help the organisation find volunteers through a recruitment drive targeted at professional athletes, their management and fans to give them something to do during downtime caused by coronavirus.
Mr Puata said people from within the Orange community could also volunteer for the Transport to Treatment program by contacting the Orange office on 6292 0800 or email email@example.com.
To sign up to volunteer through Play for Lives visit www.playforlives.org.
The Cancer Council is also looking for people to continue to donate to the organisation so it can continue to support people who have been diagnosed with cancer.
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