My Guide volunteers from the North West Volunteer Centre.
Nineteen volunteers have already undergone the specialist My Guide training, organised by the North West Volunteer Centre (NWVC) in partnership with Guide Dogs NI.
NWVC’s volunteer co-ordinator John McBride, who along with colleague Eamon Nugent have overseen the Culture events training of some 650 volunteers, said they hope to deliver more My Guide training to meet service demand.
“One of the difficulties is matching supply of volunteers to the demand for the service.Our current pool is mostly available at weekends and we need to have more people available during the daytime and evening time,” he said.
“Once we have the volunteers in place we will be in a position to promote the service with the confidence that we will match the requests. We enjoy fantastic support from RNIB locally, who are assisting us in identifying clients who would like to use the service.”
John said the first service user attended the Return of Colmcille pageant and the feedback was highly positive. Now, in conjunction with the local branch of RNIB, volunteers help with business trips, as well as reading and walking groups.
He said NWVC also plan to further develop those existing services. A running club and shopping project are in the pipeline.
“One highlight that stands out was accompanying clients to the Status Quo concert when ten clients were supported,” John said.
“There is a good feeling among our volunteers and clients with this project. The clients are happy to have the support and the volunteers all report that this is a very rewarding role to have. We have many more ideas however we are taking it one step at a time as there are numerous issues to be aware of in different environments.
“At this stage we are ready to recruit more volunteers who will be trained in Guiding, Communication Skills and Safeguarding. Vision loss is a serious problem and having experienced short-term vision loss as a teenager I can certainly understand the challenges that our clients face. I am also so impressed by the fortitude and determination that I encounter when meeting and assisting clients. This is where the motivation arises.”
You can get more information from John or Eamon by phoning 71 271017 or via emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
NWVC is also hosting information sessions on September 21 at 3pm and September 23 at 7:30pm at their London Street offices.