Volunteers out on their bikes. Credit Merseyside blood bikes
Volunteers out on their bikes (c) Merseyside Blood Bikes

Merseyside and Cheshire Blood Bikes play a pivotal role in helping and supporting the NHS, acting on standby seven days a week to help transport blood, blood samples, breast milk and other substances to areas across Merseyside who need it most. 

The concept originated in 1960, created by a woman called by Mary Ryerson but over time has morphed into different associations and groups, with the creation of Merseyside and Cheshire Blood Bikes in 2012

MerseyNewsLive spoke to group secretary Jefferey Wainwright about the work that the organisation does and how in the current economic and labour climate it is so important.

The bikers are always on standby to help the NHS whenever they are needed

“One of the things that they call us on to do is to fill in the gaps on a regular basis- for example if one of their vans leaves the hospital at 830 am with a load of bags, chances are there’s a laboratory or a ward will need it very soon after, so rather than them having to wait we can help facilitate the moving of the blood at a quicker rate.”

The Vans used to help transport the blood.
Vans used to help transport the blood (c) Merseyside Blood Bikes

Jeff spoke in detail about the makeup of the group and how it has changed since its first incarnation in 1960, while also stressing how hard it is to maintain what they do without the help of volunteers.

He said: “Originally the Merseyside and Cheshire blood bikes were just part of the Northwest blood bikes group and frankly it was just too big to manage effectively, it was hard to have a common agreement with how every group in the area wanted to operate.

“The nationwide association of blood bikes was a started in 2012, the majority of blood bikes are part of this group with the advantages being that we work with the different organisations to give us one voice. The trouble is that not every blood bike group is a member of NABB. One of the reasons that we formed in 2012 was because it was getting too difficult to operate in a standard way that fitted with what NABBrecommended.

“We find it really hard to find volunteers. The way that we operate is that people ride their own bike for maybe the first two months and if we can see that you are really committed to the cause then we’ll put you through an advanced rider qualification which enables you to ride one of our bikes.

“But there are so many people that get in touch who don’t meet the requirements and we have some people that just like riding their bikes, but when it comes to delivering blood on a regular basis don’t really fancy it. We’ve always struggled with getting recruits ever since we started in 2012, our membership is around a 100 but the turnover is quite high and its changing all the time. We do have a core group of guys though, including myself, who have been there since the start.”

We find it hard to raise donations

For Merseyside blood bikers without consistent donations they would not be able to operate. Jeff outlined how it is vital that they get support from the public and financial partners to allow them to continue to do what they do.

“We find it hard to raise donations, the vast majority of the donations that we get from the general public is collecting spare change at different locations such as Tesco, Asda and we do this on a regular basis. Every penny of those donations goes to keeping our charity on the road

If the NHS hospitals that we pick up and deliver to didn’t have us then their only option would be to put it in a taxi. We deliver our service for free, if they use a taxi and they take it from hospital to hospital in Liverpool then its going to cost them £10-20 every time, possibly more.

If you think about that point nationally, its just not viable for the hospitals to pay every time to move the blood. We’re doing hundreds of runs a month, it just wouldn’t be possible without our help.”

Jeff hopes that the charity can continue to grow, while they keep delivering blood for the NHS and other organisations who need it most.

” It’s not that there is an onus on us to provide services. We’ve got riders who will be annoyed if they have to spend all day just sitting and not being able to help. We are all volunteering for different reasons. If you were to give the NHS another billion pound a year, then you are still going to need us because they’re going to give that money for other areas and not the transportation of blood and other products.” 

Featured image (c) Merseyside Blood Bikes


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