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The Grandmother Who 'Found Her Calling' Helping Women Get Home Safely

Meet 'Grandma Uber'.

17/08/2016 3:54 PM AEST | Updated August 17, 2016 15:55
Facebook: Grandma Uber
Getting girls home safe, one drive at a time.

Kathy Raydings is 57, and has just found her calling. It comes with a new name, too.

Grandma Uber.

Since joining Uber in January, the New Zealander turned Queenslander has made it her life's mission to get young women home safe after a night out on the town in Brisbane.

After hearing claims from young women who felt unsafe travelling at night, 'Grandma Uber' decided she had a purpose.

"It's taken me 57 years to find my calling and I think I've found it."

When HuffPost Australia called, Raydings was out buying $280 worth of chocolates "for the girls". Along with her homemade paleo slices and sugar free biscuits, Grandma Uber packs her car with water, energy drinks, sweets and an esky full of chocolates (we're talking m&ms, maltesers, mars, snickers -- the lot) each night.

"I have a huge Bundy Rum esky in the boot filled with chocolates. It usually lasts a week and a half," Raydings told HuffPost Australia.

A photo posted by Kathy Raydings (@grandma_uber) on

Grandma Uber is now driving 70 hours a week. When she's not driving, she's cleaning the car or sleeping, so that leaves about 17 hours of free time every seven days. She's driven more than 3,500 people in Queensland and her Uber rating is an unsurprising 4.8 stars.

So how did the 57-year-old end up part of the ride sharing service?

Working in the solar industry, inspecting houses for decades, Raydings was attacked by a client's dog in 2015. The incident not only left her traumatised, but with medical bills and limited work, prompting a downward spiral into serious financial hardship.

The grandmother-of-two turned to driving for a bit of extra cash. After a couple of months Raydings decided to move from the Gold Coast to a much busier Brisbane to reach more young women.

Raydner has been living with one of her brothers for months, but after countless hours of driving and saving she is now able to afford to rent her own place. She moves into her new home in Forest Lake on Monday.

But that's only half of the story.

Brisbane woman Amy O'Farrell heard about Grandma Uber from a colleague who would arrange for his wife to be picked up from functions, as she was frightened getting in cars alone.

"I felt compelled to do the right thing and instantly shared her photo and name with the girls of Brisbane on a local, secret girls only page which I am well known on," O'Farrell told HuffPost Australia.

The post gained more than 2000 likes in 50 minutes, and Grandma Uber's client base has since blossomed.

O'Farrell also created a Facebook page and Instagram account for the 57-year-old, so more women now have access to her details and driving schedule (which is put up every Sunday).

"I've only been on Instagram since Friday," said Grandma Uber..

A photo posted by Kathy Raydings (@grandma_uber) on

With an overwhelming number of potential passengers, Grandma Uber is now recruiting. The 57-year-old is meeting with two women on Monday to expand her mission.

"They'll obviously need to get their Uber approval and credentials, but then drive under the Grandma Uber banner and logo. We'll dress up their cars with stickers so the girls will recognise that it's another Grandma Uber," Raydings said.

"They just need to love the girls, treat everyone with respect, care for them, get them home. There's no rocket science to it."

O'Farrell has also started a GoFundMe page to raise money for a Grandma Uber party bus, taking 12 women home at once. She's hoping to reach $15,000 but ideally $40,000 is needed for the bus. Not to mention bumper stickers, t-shirts and other Grandma Uber branding.

When asked whether she'd like it to go nationwide, Raydings said it was "food for thought".

"Well, why not? Why wouldn't we?"

And for those wondering whether Grandma Uber does Maccas runs... yes, she does.

Editor's Note: The Huffington Post's Co-Founder Arianna Huffington is a member of Uber's board of directors, and has recused herself from any involvement in the site's coverage of the company.

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