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Weston Park Cancer Charity expanding ‘lifeline’ free transport service

Weston Park Cancer Charity has announced its free bus service – which has become a ‘lifeline’ for patients getting to and from the site from throughout South Yorkshire – will be given a prominent new pick-up point at Meadowhall.

An area of the shopping centre’s 12,000-space car park will become a dedicated pick-up point for the shuttle bus service, which has buses running twice-daily from Rotherham, Barnsley and Chesterfield.

A team of volunteer drivers ably drive each seven or eight-seat bus, while providing a friendly face for passengers.

The service also removes a significant amount of stress from patients’ journeys to and from appointments, cutting out the need to negotiate limited parking and traffic due to Weston Park’s location in Sheffield’s busy hospital district.

The new Meadowhall pick-up point will further bolster the charity’s Rotherham and Barnsley services – launched in August 2022 and December 2021 respectively – and allow patients from the region to board at the shopping centre’s Green car park and continue their journey to Weston Park Cancer Centre.

The Barnsley bus, which sets off from Oakwell Stadium on Grove Street, Barnsley, will also now pick passengers up from the Holiday Inn, Dodworth, a stone’s throw from the M1 motorway.

Since August 2022:

  • The Barnsley bus has taken 870 passengers to and from appointments at Weston Park.
  • The Rotherham service has taken 104 passengers to and from appointments.
  • The Chesterfield service has taken 906 passengers to and from appointments at Weston Park.

Weston Park Cancer Charity chief executive officer, Emma Clarke, said:

“We are delighted to be able to expand our free bus service, which will help us reach so many more people who might otherwise struggle to get to appointments. Our thanks go to the Meadowhall management team, who have kindly let us use part of the car park, organised for clear signage to be installed, and have been very positive and proactive throughout our work together.
“The service is going from strength to strength as more people come to know about it, and we’re always looking into ways of developing it to ensure everyone facing a cancer diagnosis has access to free transport throughout their care – removing a great deal of stress and allowing them and their families to focus on what’s important.
“While initially conceived as a cost-saving measure for patients, the service has developed to become a strong source of peer support for them and their loved ones. It’s turned into a lifeline for many people, who we’re committed to supporting at every step.”

Weston Park Cancer Charity patient transport and support officer Saoirse Cregg-Parker said: “We’re all very excited – this new pick-up point means that we can open up the service to people not just in Rotherham, but anyone who can get to Meadowhall. We can help patient get to their treatment, and take the stress out of worrying about parking, getting in on time and fuel costs.

“The drivers build such great relationships with the patients. A lot of the drivers will always comment on how patients will tell each other things they don’t even tell their closest relatives because it’s a time for them to be around people who know exactly what they’re going through.

“They’re just honest with each other, and I don’t think they can get that anywhere else – they’re not just defined by their cancer, they talk to each other about hobbies, what they do for work, what’s happening in their area. Most importantly, they feel safe, and they can just relax and think about other things that are far more important than where to park.”

Meadowhall centre director, Darren Pearce, added:

“We’re really pleased to be able to launch this great new initiative with a charity we’ve supported for many years now. Meadowhall is easily accessible, and it’s fantastic to be able to use our facilities to make it simpler and less stressful for local people to travel to get their treatment.
“Supporting our local community is really important to us, and that’s why as well as launching the bus service, we’ve also chosen Weston Park as our charity partner for 2023. We look forward to continuing to work together with our customers to raise much-needed funds for the organisation throughout the year.”

Roy Kolody, a 70-year-old patient at Weston Park from Chesterfield, was told about the service by hospital staff during his treatment. He said: “It’s a fantastic service, that takes all the worry from you while you are getting your treatment.”

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