New guide dog service rolled out to Westminster

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By JulieGK | Wednesday, March 06, 2013, 20:40

A new scheme called My Guide, provided by Guide Dogs for the Blind in London that has been piloted in Camden and Southwark, has been so successful that it's being rolled out to three other Borough's including Westminster.

93-year-old Helen Cunning, who has lived in Camden for more than sixty years is a great example as to how My Guide can change lives. She did not feel comfortable leaving the house with her eye condition, especially in the evenings, but is now out and about thanks to a sighted guide.

She was referred to Guide Dogs by her social worker who knew about a new service called My Guide, which aims to get blind and partially sighted people out of their homes and back into the community by agreeing to a three to six month plan together with a volunteer guide.

Helen said: "This new service has been a huge help to me. I have been matched with a volunteer called Chris and since we met before Christmas I've been able to do things that I would never have been able to do on my own. She and I visit the shops and go on lovely walks together."

My Guide Volunteer Chris Hall-Maiden said: "Helen has a great sense of humour and I'm pleased we've been able to get her back into the community and boost her confidence in getting around her local area. She's unstoppable! Since we've met Helen has become very bold in getting around and sometimes I have to remind her who the guide is!".

In order to guide people safely, Volunteers are put through two comprehensive Vision 2020UK-endorsed training sessions on how to guide blind or partially sighted people, they also go through an enhanced police disclosure check and complete online learning before they join a waiting list to be matched with someone who would like to use the service.

Charlotte Gavelle, London My Guide Coordinator said: "My Guide is a great way for volunteers to help people with a visual impairment to begin their journey to getting their mobility back, and some may continue that journey further by applying for a Guide Dog."

Charlotte added: "Helen and Chris have been a perfect match and are an example of the success of this new scheme and we are now looking for other blind and partially sighted people and volunteers in Westminster, Tower Hamlets and Lewisham."

Anyone wishing to apply should contact Guide Dogs in London on 0845 372 7415 or



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