Letters, Wednesday, December 3, 2014

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Appeal to recruit volunteer guides

MY name is Emma and I am totally blind. Since losing my sight suddenly over three and a half years ago my confidence has taken a huge knock. Lacking confidence meant I was unable to use public transport, or go very far from my home independently.

 My personal experience is that losing your sight can be a frightening and confidence sapping experience. Those things we take for granted, like popping to the shops, taking the kids to school or enjoying a hobby can seem like impossible barriers to overcome and add to the emotional impact and feelings of isolation that sight loss can bring.

 Luckily, I was made aware of My Guide, a new service run by Guide Dogs, by My Guide Ambassador, Mike Dooley. The aim is to enable people who are blind and partially sighted to gain the confidence and self-belief needed to overcome the barriers and do the things they want to and need to.

 I was matched with a My Guide volunteer Geoff, who had comprehensive training and haven’t looked back. We started using public transport into town until I became confident enough to do it on my own, which has meant I can arrange to meet friends in town or go to the shops without relying on family to take me. We then started finding places to walk to from home, which also gives me independence and the freedom to go out walking, which is something I did enjoy in my past. This will also be good when I eventually get my guide dog.

 My Guide has changed my life so much for the better. I can’t thank Mike and Geoff enough.

 There are many people in the Sunderland, Washington, Chester-le-Street, Gateshead and South Shields who would benefit from a My Guide partnership, but Guide Dogs needs to recruit more volunteers to make this possible.

 The role requires a couple of hours a week and you will acquire great new skills, get out and about and have the satisfaction of knowing you are making a real difference to someone’s life.

 To find out more, contact 0845 372 7423 or mike.dooley@guidedogs.org.uk

 My life would not be the same without My Guide.

Emma G,

My Guide Service User

Unforgettable night

I WOULD like to congratulate the Sunderland Echo, the Stadium of Light and the sponsors for the great and wonderful night our group had.

 We were there, present by nomination, for the Best of Wearside Awards, of which we were thrilled by the thought of nominations, for although we didn’t make it, the night made us all feel like winners.

 The drinks reception was followed by dinner, which was hot and plentiful, thanks Stadium of Light. Then to the awards, which covered a variety of categories.

 We were all delighted with the awards, more so when the Children’s Awards came round, what a tearjerker. Congratulations to all the children and, of course, their wonderful parents.

 So again, thanks to the Echo and the Stadium and the footballers Benno and Monty for an unforgettable night.

Chairman Phil Bradford, Development Manager Trisha Doyle and staff Monica, Malcolm, Lee and Paul,

Headlight,

Mary Street, Sunderland