For the past three years I have been involved with Guide Dogs. One of my friends initially asked me to help out by placing some collection boxes and I decided I would like to get more involved.
I trained to be a My Guide Volunteer. The role involves accompanying local guide dog owners to speaking appointments at schools or fundraising events. I have also guided another lady from her home into town, to the bank, hairdressers and chemist to make her aware of her location and increase her independence.
I was attracted to the role of My Guide because it involves working with a local visually impaired person and I am aware of the difference I am making to the persons confidence and mobility by helping them to get out and about again.
There are no specific skills required as you are trained to guide safely.
My volunteering commitment is one or two hours per week and it has been great to meet new people and has offered me the opportunity to take part in events in places like Stormont. I have also experienced being guided, whilst blindfolded, by a guide dog around an obstacle course and realising how much trust has to be put in the dog.
If you have any free time I would encourage people to get involved. You really do make such a difference to the lives of blind and partially sighted people as well as learning new skills and having fun!
Noreen McKeown, Ballymena