Welcome to Issue One of the Guide Dogs Scotland newsletter, a quarterly publication aimed at keeping you up to date with what’s happening around the country.
We’ll be focusing on highlights from the Edinburgh and Glasgow Mobility Teams and Forfar Training School as well as hearing about future events.
Last year - 2012 - was a challenging one as we all got used to the new ways of working. We’d like to thank you for being alongside us all the way.
Scotland had a great year, beating fundraising and production targets, placing Buddy Dogs with blind and partially sighted children and developing the My Guide project. This year is also off to a flying start as you will see from the stories here.
If you have any ideas for this newsletter please let us know by emailing Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can also call your local Mobility Team if you would like to share your ideas.
Be a voice for volunteers
It's really important to Guide Dogs Scotland that we hear the views of our volunteers and we know that you are keen to share your ideas with us.
So now we're looking for existing, registered volunteers who are willing to become a Volunteer Voice.
Elected volunteers will be asked to attend quarterly meetings to learn about local and national plans and help get that information out to the volunteers they represent. V.V. members will also be asked to be a contact point for other volunteers who want to feed back on new plans.
If you are interested, and would like more information on how to apply, go to www.guidedogsscotland.org.uk or contact your local Volunteer Development Co-ordinator:
Edinburgh Mobility Team - Emma Murton t: 0845 372 7406 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glasgow Mobility Team - Rubina Shah t: 0845 372 7436 or email email@example.com.
We are pleased to introduce our new Service User Representatives (SUR).
Sam Hunter will be the SUR for the Glasgow Mobility Team, providing support to clients in the west of Scotland. Sam was previously the District Client Representative for the south of Scotland.
Taking over as SUR for the Edinburgh Team is Derek Naysmith. Both Sam and Derek are guide dog owners and you can learn more about them both in the next newsletter.
Many thanks to Robert Blackwood and Mary Rasmussen, our out-going District Client Representatives, for all their hard work over the years, supporting guide dog owners in the west and north east of Scotland.
Dog care and welfare contacts
Some changes were made to the areas covered by Dog Care and Welfare Advisor on 1 March 2013.
Service Users and Puppy Walkers within the Glasgow Mobility Team areas should contact Liz MacKinnon, on 07990 540160 or email her at Liz.MacKinnon@guidedogs.org.uk.
For clients covered by Edinburgh Mobility Team, the contact is Paul Garty, on 0845 372 7406, or email Paul.Garty@guidedogs.org.uk. Puppy walkers in the Edinburgh Mobility Team area should call 0845 372 7408.
We’re open for business
Guide Dogs Scotland is Open for Business – that was the key message at the Accessible Tourism Conference held in Edinburgh’s International Conference Centre.
The conference, hosted by VisitScotland, attracted major players from the tourism sector.
Guide Dogs’ Open for Business package offers an understanding of visual impairment and the skills to guide customers safely, helping businesses to offer an inclusive and accessible consumer experience.
Keith MacKay, of Scottish Whisky Experience, in Edinburgh, said: “We want to make our experience as inclusive as possible so Open for Business makes sense for us. It would be valuable for our staff and great for visitors.”
To find out how Guide Dogs can help boost your business, contact Sheena MacKinnon 07785 433227 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
On the campaigns trail
Guide Dogs Scotland’s campaigning has been very successful over the past few months, so thanks to everyone who wrote to their political representatives on our behalf.
Sandra White MSP's proposed Responsible Parking (Scotland) Bill took one step closer to becoming law when it was supported by 58 MSPs from five parties. The Bill will now be drafted and formally introduced to the Scottish Parliament. Its aim is to stop parking on pavements, at dropped kerbs and at crossing points.
We still need your help with our Safe and Sound campaign on quiet vehicles. In February we were delighted MEPs voted in favour of making a sound generator on quiet electric and hybrid cars mandatory. The campaign received support from Scottish MEPs Alyn Smith and David Martin who, after meeting staff and guide dog owners, fully understood the importance of the campaign. The regulations have now passed to the next stage of the process, a vote in the Council of the European Union.
To ensure the UK government listens to our campaign calls at this crucial next step we are creating a mix tape of our favourite sounds. Help us now by adding your favourite sound to our Ministerial mix tape at www.guidedogs.org.uk/safeandsound.
Share your story
Could you inspire people to support Guide Dogs Scotland by telling your story?
The Edinburgh Mobility Team is currently recruiting volunteer Speakers across the East of Scotland to help spread the word about our work. As a Speaker you will inspire audiences by talking about how Guide Dogs has made a difference to you, either as a service user or volunteer.
Judith, an existing Speaker, says: “It's really rewarding to see and hear how groups enjoyed my story and hopefully it inspires them to support Guide Dogs.”
If you are interested in finding our more about this role or any other volunteer role, please contact Emma at the Edinburgh office on 0845 372 7406 or email@example.com.
Set a pup on the right path
We are currently recruiting new puppy walkers in South Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire and South Glasgow.
So if you, or anyone you know, feel they can prepare a guide dog puppy for its working life, by familiarising them with different environments including the home, towns and public transport, then please contact Rubina Shah t: 0845 372 7436 for more information.
M&S gets the Guide Dogs experience
Glasgow Mobility Team invited staff from M&S to spend a day learning and experiencing the world of Guide Dogs recently. Lesley, Barbara and Gillian were trained to Sighted Guide a blind/visually impaired person and shown how to groom and handle a dog correctly. They also learned about getting involved with Guide Dogs in the future, through volunteering or fundraising, and experienced what it's like to be visually impaired by using glasses that simulate different eye conditions.
Lesley said: “We all got so much from our day at Guide Dogs. The day was full of really useful information and it was amazing to see the commitment from the team towards their jobs and making a difference for others. The dogs were amazing and really change their owner's lives. We had a great time!”
Allstars take on Coniston Challenge
The Weegie Allstars - staff from the Glasgow Mobility Team – are braving the 2013 Coniston Adventure Team Challenge on 8th June.
This event requires teams to endure a 15km bike ride through Grizedale Forest, climb the Old Man of Coniston (9km walk/803m high) and then kayak for 4km on Coniston Water. The reward for putting themselves through the pain of this challenge is that the team must also raise at least £2000 for Guide Dogs.
You can help the team reach their goal by donating via the My Donate webpage https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/allstars. It would also help if you could use your social media contacts to pass it on. Follow their training blog at www.guidedogsscotland.org.uk.
Endurance events need support
Community Fundraiser, Nikki Neesam, is looking for volunteers to help run a water station, at Port Seton Links, during the Edinburgh Marathon on Sunday 26 May.
We need around 40 volunteers to hand out water to the runners on what is always a fantastic day.
Guide Dogs Scotland has been chosen as chosen charity of the annual Scottish Coal Race, at Kelty, Fife, on 29 June. This is a test of strength and speed as the runners carry a sack of coal along the 1km course.
During the race, we will be holding a collection in Kelty High Street, so need some extra volunteers for that. Money raised will be used to name a puppy.
Anyone wishing to help in Edinburgh or Kelty should call contact Volunteer Development Co-ordinator Emma Murton on 0845 372 7406 or email Emma at firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteers required for Blair Horse Trials 2013
The 2013 Blair Horse Trials promises to be a special occasion for Guide Dogs Scotland, as we are the official charity partner for the event.
The Guide Dogs presence at the international equestrian event was secured by excellent work from the Perth and District fundraising group, who are looking for additional volunteers to help out over the four days in August.
In particular, they are looking for support on Saturday 24 August and Sunday 25 August for stewarding, minding stalls, and other roles on what promises to be a busy few days for all involved.
To find out more about volunteering for Guide Dogs Scotland at the Blair Horse Trials, contact Volunteer Development Co-ordinator Emma Murton on 0845 372 7406 or email Emma at email@example.com
And meanwhile you can follow guide dog puppy Blair, who is Guide Dogs’ mascot for the event, on his journey to becoming a fully fledged guide dog at Blair’s blog on www.guidedogsscotland.org.uk .
Forfar Fun Day
Saturday 22 June is the date in your diary for the Forfar Training School’s annual Fun Day.
As usual a bumper crowd of Guide Dogs supporters, volunteers and staff, as well as the public, are expected for the gala extravaganza.
Last year long queues formed for the sensory tunnel and blindfold walks and both will again feature – as well as lots of fun for all the family, plus a few surprises.
For more information phone the Training School on 0845 372 7408.
Places remain available for Guide Dogs Scotland’s annual Glasgow to Edinburgh cycle ride on Saturday 11 May.
This 50 mile course takes in the Forth, Clyde and Union canals. The route follows scenic towpaths and offers stunning countryside views alongside the iconic Scottish waterways.
Organised by Sandy Miller’s West Lothian Guide Dog Owners’ fundraising group, the challenge is always a great social occasion suitable for all levels of cycling proficiency.
Refreshments are provided. The registration fee is £10 with a minimum fundraising target of £50.
For more call the events team on 0845 600 6878 or visit www.guidedogs.org.uk/ridescotland.
Dementia Assistance Dogs In early April an important milestone was achieved in a cross-collaborative project between Alzheimer Scotland, Dogs for the Disabled (DfD) and Guide Dogs Scotland.
Over the past few months the groups have been working on a ground-breaking Dementia Assistance Dogs project.
Two dogs – Kaspa, from (DfD) and Oscar (a change of career guide dog) – were matched to two couples, where one is the client and the other is their carer.
Kaspa and Oscar were trained in Guide Dogs Forfar Training School by Shirley Stewart. The assistance dogs have been trained to support routines by working to reminders in the home such as medication times, as well as going out and about with the couples providing a focus and an anchor for the person with dementia.
Although still at an early stage, the dementia dogs are already having a positive impact.
Come and meet your team
Engagement staff are holding events across East Glasgow and North Lanarkshire in May to raise awareness of Guide Dogs Scotland.
We'll have a stand at the Glasgow Fort Shopping centre on 10 May from 10am – 3.30 pm. Members of the public can come along, chat to us about guide dog ownership, campaigns, fundraising and how they can get involved with volunteering. We'll also be hosting a similar event in the Buchanan Centre, Coatbridge, from 10am – 3.30pm on 16 May.
Michelle Young, Engagement Officer for the Glasgow Mobility Team, invites guide dog owners and existing volunteers to be involved with these events and future engagement activities. So please get in touch to find out how you can be part of the team.
After these large-scale public events, we'll host further volunteer events in the areas to give those people who want to become involved with Guide Dogs Scotland the chance to meet staff and find out more about how they can help. They are:
14 May - Asda, Parkhead Forge, from 10am – 12 noon, and Kirkintilloch Baptist Church, from 2pm – 4pm: and