From the humble beginnings of three friends in casual clothes attending to the needs of Port Pirie hospital patients, the Rainbow Helpers organisation has grown to become an integral part of the local healthcare scene.
The organisation is celebrating over 30 years of helping those in need and are calling for more volunteers to help boost declining numbers. At the group’s peak, 36 volunteers serviced the hospital throughout the week. However numbers have fallen to as low as ten in recent times.
For long-serving Rainbow Helpers volunteer Robyn Clark, the jobs were simple but made a world of difference to patients’ hospital experience.
“We’re there for the patients,” Robyn said.
“There might be someone who is out of town who doesn’t have anyone, so we might do their washing or just to chat to them.
“I just like to go and see the patients to brighten their day. I still enjoy it otherwise I wouldn’t be there.”
Rainbow Helpers volunteer and former president Val Hartmann said a simple encounter she had with a patient emphasised the group’s important work.
“I went in to see a lady who was in bed and she had dreadful ulcers on her legs,” Val said.
“Her husband was in Hammill House and had passed away. She was in quite a state, very emotional, and she didn't know whether the doctor was going to let her go to her husband’s funeral. So she needed someone to talk to, and I was there.”
Mid North community health manager Melissa Koch said the work of Rainbow Helpers was crucial.
“As a hospital and health service we are very appreciative of all our volunteers including our Rainbow Helpers volunteers and what they do for our community,” Melissa said. Any members of the public interested in the Rainbow Helper program can contact the Port Pirie Regional Health Service Volunteer Coordinator, Sue Doyle, on 8638 1100. Sue is also interested in hearing from anyone that can donate some of their time to volunteering in the Aged Care Day Programs and Volunteer Driving Program at the hospital.