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Human volunteers to be used by guide dog charity in Tower Hamlets

PUBLISHED: 17:47 06 March 2013

Partially-sighted Helen Cunning with her My Guide volunteer Chris Hall-Maiden.

Partially-sighted Helen Cunning with her My Guide volunteer Chris Hall-Maiden.

Guide Dogs for the Blind - submitted

Human volunteers will be used instead of guide dogs by a charity set to help blind people in Tower Hamlets.

The new scheme, called My Guide, will be provided by Guide Dogs for the Blind after a successful pilot scheme in two other London boroughs.

The service aims to help get blind and partially-sighted people out and about by pairing them with trained volunteers for either a three or six-months placement.

The volunteers, who undergo practical training sessions and online tests about how to become a guide, are all subject to police disclosure checks before they are put on a waiting list to be matched with somebody who would like to use the service.

London My Guide coordinator, Charlotte Gavelle, said: “My Guide is a great way for volunteers to help people with a visual impairment to begin their journey to getting their mobility back, and some may continue that journey further by applying for a guide dog.”

She said the scheme had proved so successful in Camden and Southwark, it will now be rolled out in other boroughs and added: “We are looking for other blind and partially-sighted people - and volunteers - in Tower Hamlets, Westminster and Lewisham.”

The scheme has already worked for 93-year-old Helen Cunning, of Camden, who suffers from increasingly poor vision.

Helen, who was matched with My Guide volunteer Chris Hall-Maiden, said: “This new service has been a huge help to me.

“Since we met before Christmas I’ve been able to do things that I would never have been able to do on my own. She and I visit the shops and go on lovely walks together.”

• Anyone wishing to find out more, or apply for a volunteer guide, should contact Guide Dogs in London on 0845 372 7415 or email london@guidedogs.org.uk.

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