The local branch of charity Guide Dogs is urgently appealing for new volunteers to sign up as Fundraisers and My Sighted Guides. Volunteering Coordinator Pat Janecka reached out to S&C Editor Sarah Cheverton to tell us how you can get involved.
There are around 2 million people living with sight loss in the UK. Guide Dogs supports people with a visual impairment to maintain their independence and live the life they choose. There are lots of different services on offer, ranging from volunteer-led services such as My Sighted Guide through to children and young people’s services, access to technology, and the iconic guide dog service.
It costs around £55,000 to train and support a guide dog partnership throughout the dog and owner’s life, so fundraisers are needed to promote and take part in a variety of activities to raise this money for Guide Dogs. While a dog can transform the life of someone who is blind or partially sighted, some may prefer Guide Dogs’ alternative service known as My Sighted Guide, delivered by volunteers who help those in need get out and about.
Guide Dogs relies heavily on volunteers to help improve the lives of people with sight loss and has local groups across the country. This means that people can volunteer in their local communities and make a difference, while getting involved with a fun and positive group.
Pat Janecka, Volunteering Coordinator for Guide Dogs in the area told me, ‘Our My Sighted Guides have a crucial role in supporting the blind and partially sighted residents of Portsmouth. Our volunteers are matched with someone needing their help, based on mutual interests. On the other hand, Fundraisers not only raise awareness of our services, but they raise the vital funds needed to deliver this support. If you’re looking to make a difference then please visit our website to find out more about these roles.’
More details about the role of My Sighted Guides can be found here.
Pat also shared some thoughts from a current volunteer in one of her fundraising groups, who said, ‘It really is extremely fulfilling. I have met so many new people and extended my personal skills (influencing, networking, negotiating), which in turn benefits how I work in my professional life. It’s also like being part of a big family.
‘It’s enjoyable because I am motivated by achievement so every pound we collect more than the last activity makes me want to keep beating my own targets. The people I work alongside are super and have welcomed me in as a newcomer. I love sharing my enthusiasm with them and helping them where I can – not always Guide Dog related so I think we’ve become real friends.’
If you would like to apply or find out more about volunteering opportunities at Guide Dogs, please head over to www.guidedogs.org.uk/volunteer
By inputting your postcode on the page, you will be able to see roles available to you in your area.
If you have any questions or queries, please email Pat, the Volunteer Coordinator for Guide Dogs at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, if you decide to – or if you already – volunteer with Guide Dogs and would like to share your experience with others, get in touch with us over on Facebook or Twitter to share your story and encourage others to volunteer.