Today, I applied to become a volunteer for guidedogs.org as there was a ‘My Guide’ role available. This role consists of supporting the
“…blind and partially sighted people to get out and about and do the things they want to do. The My Guide service has vetted and appropriately trained volunteers who use guiding techniques to help people with sight loss to work towards the mobility goals they want to achieve. This could involve accessing activities and places of interest in the local community, learning familiar routes and improving fitness.”
You can give five minutes, five hours, five months or more. Knowing you can do something which may seem so small to impact the lives of blind people warms my heart. As soon as I noticed that a role has become available in my area, I applied with no hesitation.
As well as those little puppies being as cute and cuddly as they are, they also provide much guidance and love for the blind or the partially sighted people. Approximately, 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide according to the Media Centre. Think about that significant figure.
It is beyond upsetting isn’t it?
The beauty that one is missing out on life – yet they are able to live their lives to the fullest through a hopeful mind and care of others. The way in which we communicate with the blind or partially sighted is magical.
I remember my grandad going on a course as he was partially blind in one eye. He sponsored a guide dog and received a merchandise soft dog of a little Labrador named Angel. He always wanted to help others and he donated to more than just one charity alone.
I have kept this teddy with me – my niece managed to take its blue name tag off when she was a baby but I will still keep Angel forever. In a way, she is my little guide dog. I am not blind but whenever I feel like I need some guidance, I can think about what my grandad would have done.
My grandad never opted for a guide dog after his course because he did not want to let go of his long-term, family dog named Sheba. Nor did he wish for Sheba to have any grumbles against another dog. She did tend to growl a bit if you went near her food – I doubt she would have left enough for two!
My grandad lived in a flat, therefore, there was not a lot of room for two dogs to live there anyway. Though, it is true to say that he had a lot of love for both. One thing that stays in my memory, is that Sheba did not last very long once my grandad passed away. Perhaps she needed to be at rest with him. She was special to my grandad just as she was to all of us but she was like a friend once granny had passed away.
As my grandad’s mobility worsened, he wore tinted glasses to improve his sight. Then he was given a guidance stick for whenever he walked to the shop, took Sheba for a walk etc. however, the day came where he had a wheelchair. Due to several complications with his diabetes and blood flow in his legs and other medical circumstances, this was the relevant method of travel.
He loved it. He would still appear at our house to surprise like he always did. He still travelled to Blackpool to take my brothers and me to Pontins in the summer season with our friends. I will never forget travelling with him when he would do his weekly shop at Sainsbury’s or at his local precinct. I would walk by his side and we would chat all the way. My friends would even get involved and help carry the shopping bags.
He always made sure he treated us, no matter what journey we went on. Travelling to Southport or Blackpool, he would make sure I had my face painted or took a souvenir home. Travelling to the supermarket, he would make sure we had our pick ‘n’ mix chosen or a ‘knickerbocker’ glory from the café. But the most inspirational thing about him was the sight of other’s people’s happiness and state of life coming first, regardless of his health conditions.
I want to be like him. Knowing that I could do something to continue my grandad’s generosity and kindness to such a charity feels wonderful. I really do hope that they give me this opportunity to experience what it feels like to be part of the guidedogs.org community.
Of course, I helped to guide my grandad. My mother and I went to one course with him at Bolton Stadium to test his mobility abilities. For someone who used to be a taxi driver, it was safe to say he was not on the roads anymore. Unfortunately, after retirement, my grandad shown that he was not capable of driving a vehicle. My mother and I on this particular day seen how he was bumping into the kerb and not turning correctly.
I want to understand how it feels to let a blind/partially sighted person take my arm and have assurance of their safety in me.