UCCTT makes an enormous difference to Beryl's life

Hero image for UCCTT makes an enormous difference to Beryl's life

The Uniting Care Casino Transport Team, a vital community service is the result of one special lady’s vision. Casino resident Shirley Smith realized 15 years ago that this service was desperately needed by the Northern Rivers community. Her aim was to ensure that people without access to transport don’t miss out on their medical appointments. She was right, and since its inception in 1999 the UCCTT has grown astronomically - from 77 trips in the first year to more than three thousand trips a year for the past three years – that’s almost 300 thousand kilometres covered by less than fifty very dedicated drivers! 

This busy service is run entirely by volunteers, headed by Julie Cozens, who has been selflessly donating her time to the UCCTT for over 5 years. Julie says “without the volunteers, we wouldn’t have a service… they donate not just their time, but lend a friendly ear during long hours on the road.” 

The volunteers attend training sessions covering emergency first aid, manual handling and accidental counselling. The drivers and clients spend hours together in the car, and more often than not, clients will share troubles or worries with the drivers, turning them into ‘accidental counsellors’. The fact that the volunteers all attend training sessions every two years, and sometimes drive on their weekends, shows just one aspect of their dedication.

Beryl is 94 years young this June and has been relying on the UCCTT ever since she moved into the St Michaels Aged Care facility in Casino. Her family live a long way away, and without the UCCTT her only alternative would be to catch costly taxis to her various doctor, dentist, and optometrist appointments. Beryl can’t praise the UCCTT enough. She says the service makes an enormous difference to her life. A smile lights up her words when she speaks about her weekly encounters with “helpful and courteous” UCCTT volunteer drivers. 

More than just transport, the UCCTT offers peace of mind. With UCCTT clients and their families know they will be picked up on time and be safe – and happy – in well-trained hands for their journey. 

The UCCTT relies on donations from clients and the community to reimburse the drivers for their kilometers. The Northern Rivers Community Foundation were delighted to include the UCCTT in this year’s grants. NRCF’s grant is destined specifically for aged care residents in Casino, like Beryl, to travel to Lismore for their medical needs.   

Pic: Happy UCCTT client Beryl Williams