Guide Dogs (www.guidedogs.org.uk) is looking for people who want to make a real difference to the lives of visually impaired people in the Luton and Dunstable area and is now actively recruiting volunteers to spend a few hours a week helping blind or partially sighted people get back into the community.
My Guide, a service being run by the Guide Dogs, helps people with sight loss get out of their homes, reducing the isolation that many people with sight loss experience, giving greater choice and access to the community.
“My Guide volunteers will make a very real difference to the lives of people in our area,” said Andrew Eldridge, volunteering consultant for Guide Dogs for Beds, Herts and Essex.
“Losing your sight is an extremely difficult experience that leaves many people feeling isolated and alone. This is an opportunity to have a real and positive impact, helping somebody rebuild their life and get out and about again.”
The scheme matches blind and partially sighted people with a volunteer for three to six months. Volunteers will spend a few hours a week guiding their partner on trips out to activities that the pair will agree at the start of their relationship.
Journeys could be to the shops, to a café or maybe a sports event or any other activity the blind or partially sighted person wants to take part in. The volunteer will also help them to establish lasting relationships with community members who can, in turn, help them get out more.
My Guide volunteers will receive some simple training (endorsed by VISION 2020, the umbrella body for organisations focused on visual impairment), which will give them the skills to confidently guide blind and partially sighted people.
Almost anyone can become a My Guide volunteer, as long as they are over 18 and able to commit to a minimum of two hours per week. They will also need to agree to a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.
“Guide Dogs recognises that dogs are not the solution for everyone,” said Mr Eldridge. “The service will help to change the lives of people who have become isolated as a result of their sight loss. Volunteering to become a sighted guide is a valuable skill for individuals and it’s a tangible way of making a difference to a blind or partially sighted person’s life today.”
To find out more about the service or being a volunteer contact Jenifer Oddy on 0118 983 6244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org