Daphne – a help for those in need

A group of Rondebosch volunteers help the community’s elderly, infirm and disabled get to where they need to be under the aegis of the quaintly named Project Daphne.

The brainchild of the late Vivian McKeever, Project Daphne stands for “Dis- Abled People in the Home Need Empathy” and is there for those who struggle to get around to run daily errands.

Joy Smith has been a volunteer with the group for 20 years and ran its Rondebosch branch for 15 of those years.

“Once upon a time, when there was good neighbourhood interaction, people would offer to do shopping for neighbours or give them a lift, but sadly those days are gone, so Vivian started Project Daphne, recognising the need for a neighbourly service within our own communities.”

The volunteers all use their own vehicles, but their Table View branch has a minibus to ferry people to and from retirement homes in the area.

Ms Smith collects chronic medication from the day hospital and delivers it to members.

“Most of our members are elderly persons with no transport of their own. Perhaps they once had a car, but now find themselves unable to drive. Some live independently and need to get to the shops for groceries, etc, while others find themselves ‘stuck’ in retirement homes and have no means of getting around,” Ms Smith said.

Project Daphne takes people to collect their pensions, go shopping, visit the doctor or dentist, get to hairdresser appointments or simply meet up with a friend.

“We offer no medical assistance and the financial circumstances of the member are not a consideration. If someone needs our help, we will try and help,” Ms Smith said.

Each branch provides its services in its own area in line with the “neighbourly” concept.

The volunteers aren’t paid but rely on donations to cover petrol and other expenses. In Rondebosch, they run out of an office at St Thomas Church where the volunteers relay the requests for lifts. The other southern suburbs branch is in Plumstead and there are also branches in Strand and Table View.

The Rondebosch branch is appealing for volunteers who are prepared to give up an hour or two a month to help the 200-odd people who rely on its service.

“Over the years, we have made life a bit easier for many in our community by providing thousands of lifts,” Ms Smith said.

To help or volunteer some time, contact the Project Daphne offices on 021 689 7676.