Nottinghamshire Blood Bikes © 2020
Do I need my own car?
No, we supply all the vehicles used for our work.
We provide a modern fleet of cars, fully liveried, insured, taxed, well-maintained and even the petrol.
How's about that?
All we want from you is your commitment to our charity, giving us your time whenever you can, and to keep up to date with our policies, procedures and training.
It certainly does help if you drive regularly though. We like our volunteers to stay "match fit" by driving when they are not on duty for us.
What DO I need to own?
A mobile phone is a must.
Since there's no specialist clothing required for driving, there's nothing else in particular.
We encourage volunteers to purchase some branded clothing, for instance, but your membership fee includes our hi-viz vest and ID card - and that's all you need.
We do ask that drivers remain smart, but there are no formal dress restrictions in place.
What qualification do I need?
If you are joining us 'solely' as a car driver (i.e. not also as a motorcyclist*) then we accept IAM or RoSPA Gold.
*Those who have - or obtain - an advanced riding qualification can also drive our cars WITHOUT a separate, car-based qualification, and many of us do that.
Additionally, if you are trained to Emergency Service standard (i.e. Police Class 1) in a car, that would also be sufficient.
For those with a qualification gained via the Armed Forces, we may be able to accept that too, although it must have been obtained within the last 10 years.
We'll happily guide you through the options available if you don't already have one, and explain how these tend to operate (cost and time, for instance).
If your qualification was gained over 3 years ago, we would complete a "check drive" in additional to standard training.
So I can join without one?
Yes, that's fine too.
You can join us and work towards a qualification, although you wouldn't be permitted to drive for us until completed.
Additionally, it makes the whole process of joining much more 'slick' if you have a qualification upon joining, as we can progress you to internal training rapidly.
We've found that completing this internal training before you're ready to go on the road is often a wasted process, and most people in that scenario have to revisit the classroom element again.
However, if you're happy to begin volunteering as a controller, whilst you train externally for the rider qualification, that's something we'd be happy to discuss.
So I can do more than just drive?
In fact, we encourage it.
Drivers (and riders) would certainly benefit from more of an understanding of the role of controller, and it's a great way of introducing yourself to the work we undertake for the NHS.
Additionally, we ask ALL volunteers to play a part in our fundraising activities. So, even whilst on duty, you might be requested to attend an event for a while, so we can display our vehicles to the public.
How often must I volunteer?
This is actually very important...
Whilst we don't stipulate an absolute requirement (such as X shifts per month), we do insist that volunteers understand they are not merely joining us to add to our numbers, but to actively engage in the process of "doing the job".
This means that we are seeking people who regularly volunteer - which might be one weekend every month, or a couple of days every few weeks, for instance.
We don't state a minimum, because things can become very complicated when there is a formal requirement - which effectively creates the basis of a contract (along the line of an employer - employee relationship).
We're volunteers, nothing more, nothing less!
We want YOU to WANT to volunteer, not because you have to - but because you enjoy helping us to help the NHS.
When volunteers don't regularly contribute their time, they start to let standards slip, and this risks our professional response, and places our charity at risk.
Clearly, that's something we just can't allow, and we hope you'd agree with that.
As such, we need you to be honest.
Are you prepared to give up some of your time on a regular basis?
If the answer to that is no, or "I'm not sure", then we're probably not the right charity for you...
What help will I get if I join?
We don't expect you to know everything as a new recruit - how could you?
As such, we have a tried-and-tested training AND induction program which will take you from "novice" to "regular", with help and guidance at every turn along the way.
We start with induction training.
This is a day, in a 'classroom' setting, where we introduce you to our charity - what we do, why we do it, how, when and where.
You'll see the tools of the trade up close, and you'll be introduced to elements of our fleet too, so that you can gain an instant appreciation of all things at your disposal.
We start your training by understanding the role of controllers (our call-handlers), then more specifically for the roles of drivers and riders, plus the safety aspects of working with samples, blood stocks and all the various items we transport.
We document all parts of your training and indeed how we test that you've understood all of that, as this too is an important function of the charity - assuring our NHS partners that we don't simply throw people into the role without being fully compliant.
We may be voluntary - but this must not be confused with being amateurs.
Having completed your internal training - and assuming that you are also qualified to drive for us - then we would look to assign a first introductory shift, where you would 'shadow' one of our regular, experienced members on duty, giving you the chance to see all that theory put into practice.
You would drive along with them to both our pre-planned and ad-hoc requests, see the process of collections and deliveries, visit many of our regular destinations and, of course - whilst doing so - have an opportunity to talk about the role with someone who has been through the same process as you, all without any of the added 'pressure' of doing the job yourself.
Once both sides are happy, we would progress you to a mentored shift.
The roles reverse on this one, whereby YOU take the lead, but with an experienced volunteer by your side throughout, making sure you're able to demonstrate that you can effectively and SAFELY do the job.
It is not until both sides are happy after this stage is complete that we would then allow you to complete a shift "on your own".
However, that's just a loose term in itself.
We're on hand, 24hrs a day, to discuss any further queries or concerns. Additionally, we have two online forums that you'll gain access to. One when you join, and the other when you're ready to get on the road.
Using these, you can see much more info about our service, policies and procedures, and also use one of them as a more general "member's forum", discussing just about anything you like, and this is also a good way of beginning to introduce yourself to our other volunteers.
There is, of course, ongoing training too.
We're an ever-growing, ever-changing charity and we're never stood still...
Is there anything else?
Well, yes, there's one more thing...
We require all potential volunteer riders to complete a DBS check, which we'll pay for.
This is a Disclosure & Barring Service check for criminal records or cautions.
This is a simple, online application process, which we will of course guide you through, and in the event that this highlights an area of concern - something which might prevent you from completing elements of our voluntary duties, we may be forced to withdraw your membership.
Our primary concern is the safety of our NHS partners, and their patients, whilst also maintaining the integrity of our charity.
You would receive the full report yourself, whereas we would only receive notification of areas of concern. No decisions are ever taken without a full discussion.
Do I keep a duty car with me?
Yes, you'll do that.
After selecting a car of your choice, from the most suitable location near you, you'll keep the vehicle with you for the entirety of your duty shift(s) only.
This ensures that we lose no time responding to calls, and also means far less disruption to those who house these for us.
We appreciate that not everyone has a mini Fort Knox to keep our duty cars in when they are on duty, so you're not required to have a garage, for instance. Additionally, our vehicles are fitted with trackers, just in case!
How far would I travel?
This can vary quite significantly from one shift to another, but you are likely to have a mixture of local, pre-planned as well as some ad-hoc jobs when you begin.
Once you've had a few shifts under your belt, we are likely to extend the scope of the workloads available. This includes some of our regular (slightly more planned) jobs into Sheffield or Birmingham for instance.
If your availability is more limited to, perhaps, a few hours in the day, or in the evening, then there are lots of pre-planned jobs you could help us with, some local, some further away.
We also receive requests, typically with 24hrs notice, to collect Frozen Human Breast Milk from specialist Neonatal wards in Hull or Cheshire for instance. We try our best to allocate those to drivers (or riders) who have daytime availability.
However, we are here to serve the NHS and the nature of doing that means that we can receive a call to deliver items urgently, to just about anywhere.
Once we start talking about significant distances, we would discuss the options available to us - including being able to call upon the services of other NABB member groups across the country, and may consider that a "relay" between 2 or more groups is more appropriate.
It's important to remember that we operate 24hrs a day, 365 days a year, come rain or shine, and some of our calls will happen during very unsociable hours.
Since we have a lot of work during the day, as well as into the night, this means we're looking for drivers to cover every part of the day. As such, if driving at night is not really "your thing", then we could still very much make use of your daytime availability.
If you are available for all hours, then the good news is you're not alone, as we have multiple other volunteers on duty at any one time. This means that our workloads are shared out as fairly as possibly, so those 2am calls won't constantly come your way!
Will you make sure I'm safe?
Your safety is our top priority.
Our vehicles are fitted with trackers, so we'll know where the car is at all times.
Our controllers have access to the monitoring system, so if they've not heard from you in a while, we're already one step ahead of the game.
Our S.O.P for job allocations is that a telephone call is made to allocate jobs, and you then contact our controller at set points along the way...
* When you have collected
* When you have delivered
* When you return 'home'
This also means that our controller has an understanding of where you are likely to be at any given time.
In terms of more general safety, we allow all volunteers to make a judgement call based on the weather and road conditions when workloads are allocated.
Of course, it's fair to say that we would expect the threshold for this to be higher for a car driver than for those on two wheels, but...
If you don't think it's safe to drive, then you don't go out.
Clear and simple - safety first.
So what happens then?
There are always options...
Firstly, weather conditions across Nottinghamshire can be diverse, so if it's not great for you, it might be more reasonable for another volunteer elsewhere.
And for riders, we have another back-up plan..!
We'll talk to you about that during training.
Ready to give us a go?
Still have other questions?