Guide Dogs Cymru chooses Pembrokeshire for pilot project

12:03pm Wednesday 15th January 2014

GUIDE Dogs Cymru will be out an about in Pembrokeshire later this month hoping to recruit volunteers for an ambitious new project.

The charity is aiming to help blind and visually impaired people in the county gain independence and confidence by pairing them with specially-trained volunteer guides.

The scheme, entitled My Guide, works by matching a trained volunteer with a person who is blind or partially sighted, in order to help them reach their mobility goal. This could be as simple as walking to the shops or a social club, or practising routes they have learnt with their rehabilitation officer.

The charity’s My Guide ambassador for Wales, Kylene Rafferty, said: “Identifying the right volunteers is vital, as the scheme involves working closely with adults who have a visual impairment.

“We will take care to get the right match of personality and interests. For example, a blind or visually impaired person may wish to work towards going to the football every week. A volunteer might only give an hour a week, but it needs to be a regular commitment.”

She explained why Pembrokeshire was chosen to pilot the project in Wales. “Statistics show the county has an ageing population, and many eye conditions are age-related,” she said. “It’s also quite a rural area, so it can be difficult to get out and about."

Volunteers will receive specialist training in practical sighted guiding to enable them to form a successful and confident partnership with a visually impaired person.

Would-be volunteers can find out more at a series of special events: Milford Haven Library (Cedar Court), Tuesday, January 21, 11am-3pm; Tenby Market (High Street), Thursday, January 23, 11am-3pm; Pembroke Dock Market (Melville Street), Friday, January 24, 8.30am-2pm; Oriel-y-Parc (St Davids), Saturday, January 25, 11am-3pm.

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