Thousands more blind and partially sighted people will be able to get out and about thanks to a new partnership scheme announced by Guide Dogs today.
Guide Dogs will invest £500,000 in the Sighted Guide scheme, which will train volunteers all over Britain to help blind and partially sighted people get out of the house and guide them to where they need to be.
Guide Dogs research shows that around 180,000 blind and partially sighted people are stranded in their homes and rarely, if ever, get out. The Sighted Guide scheme aims to alleviate this isolation.
The scheme will be trialled in six areas before being rolled out nationally. The first pilot will start in Gwent in January. In June a further 30 schemes will start.
Guide Dogs Chief Executive Richard Leaman said:
“We are continuing to grow our core Guide Dogs service each year, but Sighted Guiding provides an additional way of offering visually impaired people mobility support to suit their needs as individuals, so they can participate in the everyday life that some of us take for granted.
“As with all of the work we do, this project is entirely dependent on the donations we receive, so in order for it to be sustained in the years ahead we will need continued funding support from the British public.”
Guide Dogs is working closely with Visionary, the umbrella organisation for local sight loss groups, to recruit sighted guides and run the service. Together they will work alongside local societies to get more blind and partially sighted people mobile.
The training standard has been endorsed by VISION 2020 UK which is overseeing the UK Vision Strategy, within which increased mobility, access and inclusion for blind people are key objectives. VISION 2020 UK will ensure sighted guides meet a quality standard which has been agreed and developed by 15 blind and partially sighted organisations.