180,000 blind and partially sighted people find it hard to go out alone. We want to change that. The new My Guide pilot scheme is a partnership between Guide Dogs and community organisations like the PAB. This is a nationwide sighted guide scheme using a team of specially trained volunteers, to help people with sight loss get out of their homes and into the community. The aims of this scheme are to reduce the isolation that many people with sight loss experience, to help rebuild confidence and regain independence.
The My Guide programme has several key elements:
- Creating a national standard of sighted guiding
- Increasing sight loss and sighted guiding knowledge
- Supporting confidence boosting activities to visually impaired people
- Enabling more blind and partially sighted people to get out and about through simple sighted guiding assistance
- Encouraging independence and less reliance on lifelong assistance from a dedicated source to get out of the home (e.g. family member or local blind society transport schemes)
How you can help! We are looking for volunteers from all backgrounds, (male or female, young or old, retired, studying or working) who can commit a few hours each week for around 6 months. We understand that time is often limited and that is why our My Guide program is flexible and allows you to arrange times and days with the person you are guiding. You don’t need any experience as free training will be provided. This is usually two half days and involves a mix of techniques to help you understand what life could be like for a visually impaired person and how best to help them. Most volunteers find this fun and very interesting.
After completing your training you will be matched with a suitable visually impaired person for a period of up to 6 months. PAB will set out the objectives that the visually impaired person wants to achieve in that time and we will work with you to help you to achieve it. For some people who are scared to leave home, it might be as simple as getting out for a walk. For others it might be exploring the area if they have just moved here and don’t know their way around. With our support, you will also be able to provide information which could make their life easier.
The role involves:
- guiding your partner to participate in social and leisure activities
- helping your partner establish lasting relationships with community members who can, in turn, help them get out more
- working with your partner to set clear goals that help them become more independent – not dependent
- You will help your partner get and about and do the things that others take for granted. This might be regular trips to the shops, a coffee house, social club or even the local bingo. When you are there you will help them meet people such as shop assistants or club members, who can provide support on an ongoing basis.
You will not be asked to do any domestic activities, such as cleaning or cooking.
For more information about how to volunteer as a sighted guide, please contact PAB or more information can also be found on the Guide Dogs website at https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/services/my-guide/