THERE are around two million people living with sight loss in the UK.
Guide Dogs, a UK-wide charity with a community team based in Exeter, supports people with a visual impairment to maintain their independence and live the life they choose.
The charity is always looking for volunteers.
When it says that volunteering for Guide Dogs is life changing, the charity says it is not just talking about the people it will support.
It says it will help the volunteer gain new skills; build confidence and have amazing experiences you genuinely couldn’t find anywhere else.
There are lots of different services on offer, ranging from volunteer-led services such as My Sighted Guide through to the support for children and young people, access to technology, and the iconic guide dog service.
It is currently appealing for new volunteers to sign up as Puppy Raisers.
This means looking after future guide dogs for the first year of their lives, socialising them and giving them a loving home.
Bryony Lewis, Guide Dogs Exeter volunteer co-ordinator, explained: "It’s a hugely rewarding role with lots of support and training on offer, plus you will meet lots of new people in your area who are also raising pups.
"Many of you may think saying goodbye to your pup would be too difficult, but our volunteers say nothing beats the rewarding feeling of knowing you have played a huge part in changing someone’s life."
Terry describes the moment he first said goodbye to the first dog he fostered: “We were really attached to the first dog we fostered, Carli.
"However, we get to see her with her owner and that makes it all worthwhile.
"We went to our local centre and Carli came to greet us but immediately returned to her owner’s side as if to say ‘I’ve got a job to do’.
"Carli has given her owner the opportunity to go to university and live a full life.”
Bryony said that sometimes the first step can feel daunting, adding, "but if you’re volunteering with Guide Dogs, our welcoming and supportive family of both staff and volunteers are walking alongside you throughout."
Start volunteering at: www.guidedogs.org.uk/how-you-can-help/volunteering-for-guide-dogs .