We recently caught up with Kent Leung, a volunteer for the St John Health Shuttle, to find out a bit more about the Health Shuttle and the role its volunteers play in keeping this community service operating.
The St John Health Shuttle is a service by donation that transports people to essential medical and health-related appointments and then brings them home again. It is just one of many community services offered by St John throughout the country.
In his role as a volunteer, Kent works with a buddy to drive and assist their clients to essential medical appointments, helping them to and from their homes and into their appointments. Kent told us that his focus is on providing clients with assurance and effective communication. “Our clients differ in their level of mobility but what is most important in our role is ensuring that our clients feel safe and are reassured that we’ll get them back home again once they’ve finished at their appointments,” he says.
Growing demand for reliable transport
Kent, who is a retired nurse, moved from Hong Kong in June 2016 and joined the St John Health Shuttle team just a few months later. He had previously volunteered for the equivalent service in Hong Kong and received a commendation for 35 years’ service there.
Kent’s typical work day with St John Health Shuttle will start at 7.30am and goes right through to 4.00-5.00pm. He says that he’s noticed that demand for the service is growing and this is supported by the St John Health Shuttle statistics, which show in April this year the Tauranga Health Shuttle did 461 trips compared with 307 trips in the same month last year.
Here in Bay of Plenty, St John has just launched a new Health Shuttle service, based in Te Puke, to provide their community with health-related transport. This new service complements the Tauranga based service that operates from Tauranga South and Mt Maunganui – to help meet the growing demand for this service in the Western Bay of Plenty.
Kent says that he has been impressed with the level of professionalism demonstrated by St John and believes that is why it has such strong public support. “All our members have a minimum requirement of a First Aid Certificate and many have specialised skills and because of this there is a strong level of trust from the public.
“While I knew of St John for its Ambulance services before I arrived in New Zealand, I was really surprised by the number of other services St John provides to support the community,” he says.
The St John Health Shuttle currently operates in, Russell, West Auckland, South Auckland, Thames, Waihi, Whangamata, Waiheke, Hamilton, Cambridge, Tokoroa, Rotorua, Tauranga, Hawera, Waimarino, Whanganui, Dannevirke, Feilding, Marton, Otaki, Pahiatua, Wairarapa, Motueka, Nelson, Marlborough, North Canterbury, Ashburton, Central Otago, Queenstown, Gore, Greymouth, Northern Southland, Winton, Invercargill and Otautau.
If you’re interested in learning more about the St John Health Shuttle service, would like to find out about volunteering for St John or would like to support St John, you can find all the information you need at https://join.stjohn.org.nz/home.
If you’re interested in learning more about other volunteering opportunities in the Bay of Plenty, you can visit Volunteering Bay of Plenty website www.volbop.org.nz to see a wide range of opportunities. Kent would encourage you to do so. “Volunteering is so rewarding because it allows you to form a social network with people who share the same values as you. You really do get back more than you give,” he says.