Volunteers Keep in Touch Over the Phone to Support People with Sight Loss

Guide Dogs tell us how their My Guide Volunteers have reshaped the delivery of vital welfare services during COVID-19, sharing the story of Christine and Ruth from Cornwall.

Community Stories

Volunteers at Guide Dogs usually support people with sight loss face to face, through the My Guide service. This volunteer-led service means that a trained sighted guide is partnered with someone with sight loss, to help them with things like running errands, practicing everyday routes, using public transport, or getting out to build confidence. There’s often an element of befriending too, just spending time together and doing things they both enjoy. 

Woman in blue top on the phone.

With the coronavirus lockdown measures in place, these weekly meet ups can’t happen, meaning some people with sight loss are left more isolated. But some Guide Dogs volunteers are keeping up with their role by staying in contact over the phone.

Cornwall-based My Guide volunteer Christine has been partnered up with Ruth, who is severely sight impaired, for more than a year now. Ruth took up the My Guide service to help get out and about after her guide dog, Fizz, retired.

Christine explained what the pair would get up to in normal circumstances.

Normally Ruth and I meet up weekly to go out and have lunch or afternoon tea. We’ll take the bus to Falmouth or Truro and go to a restaurant, where we chat and eat and chat some more! We do quite a bit of shopping and have a giggle. We'll pick up some treats for Fizz or bring her with us if we can. We've probably missed one week in the whole year that we've been matched. Even Christmas week last year we went out. We really do get on like a house on fire.

Christine

Ruth agreed that the pair had become friends outside of the My Guide service as well.

On our first visit we were introduced by Serge [My Guide staff member at Guide Dogs] and we went out for a walk. We clicked straight away even on that first short walk – we had some things in common right from the start. We get on so well together, we really are good friends now.

Ruth

Now, Christine and Ruth are keeping in touch over the phone as they must forgo their weekly visits.

Ruth agreed that the pair had become friends outside of the My Guide service as well.

From the minute lockdown started we’ve been ringing backwards and forwards – just chatting about anything and everything. We don’t have a problem making conversation. Guide Dogs did send some prompts to help people who weren’t used to talking on the phone – but I just kept giggling and Ruth said it was cutting into good chatting time!”

Christine

Ruth says that having Christine at the end of the phone makes a real difference for her.

There’s an age difference between us but that really doesn’t matter, we get on famously. At the moment we talk probably every other day – perhaps we even talk more now that we can’t see each other

Ruth

Scrabble pieces spell out thank you.

Volunteers Week is on this June 1st – 7th. Guide Dogs would like to extend a very special thank you to all their volunteers working tirelessly at this challenging time, to continue to support people with sight loss.

Find out more at www.guidedogs.org.uk

About My Guide 

My Guide is the service provided by Guide Dogs to help people with sight loss get out and about. To learn more about the My Guide service go to: https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/faqs/my-guide-service

About Guide Dogs

A UK-wide charity, we’re specialists in giving people who are blind or partially sighted the means to live life on their own terms and to step out into the world again.

There are almost two million people in the UK living with sight loss today, a number which is predicted to double to four million by 2050.

Guide Dogs offer support in Cornwall for people who are blind or partially sighted. Their services are listed on Cornwall Link, along with the key contact information. 

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Guide Dogs South West

We provide life-changing support, skills and dogs for people with sight loss

Our ambition is a future where every person with sight loss has the confidence and support they...

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