Charity celebrates delivering 100,000 packages of life-saving blood in North West
A charity that delivers potentially life-saving doses of blood and other medical supplies across the region celebrated hitting 100,000 deliveries earlier this week.
Next time you complain about a motorbike blasting through the traffic, just remember that they might be on their way to help somebody in need.
Or at least that’s what the riders of North West Blood Bikes do, who delivered their 100,000th package in the early hours of Tuesday morning, August 10.
The charity was set up in 2012 and deliver blood and medical supplies every day, a time when the NHS would usually have to pay for taxis to make their deliveries.
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North Area Manager John Walker tells the Lancashire Evening Post that the group need volunteers more than ever, as the charity works to save the health service millions of pounds.
He said: “We ask people to give at least two shifts a month, but a lot of people are doing more, especially now when we’re running out of staff. Some of the controllers are doing ten shifts per month. It’s hard going.
“We had a lot of riders who couldn’t go out right from the very beginning of lockdown due to shielding. We weren’t able to train up any new controllers as you have to sit somebody beside them and show them how to use the technology. When some controllers left, there was nobody to replace them.
"Controllers hold a shift together, communicating with hospitals via a switchboard and assigning the nearest rider to carry out the deliveries they require.
“We never had the right number of controllers in the first place, so losing more has left a big dent.
“We desperately need more volunteers to help us out going forward.”
By making their journeys completely free of charge, they estimate that they’ve saved the NHS £5.5 million over the years and travelled a whopping 1.5 million miles; more than the equivalent of going to the moon and back three times.
It’s a big operation, using the services of around 400 kind-hearted helpers, and one that has made an immense difference to lives in Lancashire and Cumbria.
Covid-19 has placed increased demands on a diminished workforce. One of the main tasks in recent times has been delivering Covid samples.
Fundraising and recruitment stalls were instrumental in maintaining the cash flow and body count of the organisation, but lockdown made this almost impossible, and the current volunteers are feeling the strain.
Walker started with the group in 2012 and has sacrificed countless hours over the years.
He added: “It is a lovely little community. We’ve got such camaraderie in the group. We all look out for each other and we’re all dedicated to what we do.
“We’ve all got reasons for doing it. Ten years ago, I had really bad stress and had a heart attack and had to go to hospital in Blackpool. Luckily, it was just from the stress and there was nothing wrong with me, but recuperating from that, I saw the group looking for people and thought, ‘I want to give something back’.
“What the NHS have done for me is great. You realise what the NHS does for people: we’ve got ex-cancer patients working for us, families of people who have been seriously ill – everybody’s got a story.”
“Going back to my early days, I picked up from some stuff from the pharmacy in Lancaster and I had to go to the children's ward in Barrow-in-Furness. When I rang the bell, the nurse came to door and said: ‘you don’t know what that means to us, getting it so quickly, because we were desperate.’ And it just brings it home.
"It gives you that great feeling that you’re doing something that’s really important to somebody’s life.”
More information is available at the North West Blood Bikes website.