My Guide - making a difference in Bedford

Bedford My Guide partners - volunteer Sandie Anderson and service receiver Jan Thomas

Bedford My Guide partners - volunteer Sandie Anderson and service receiver Jan Thomas

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Guide Dogs for the Blind is one of Britain’s best loved charities.

Now the organisation is offering a My Guide service - sighted volunteers to help those who are visually impaired.

Volunteering consultant Lisa Cooke said: “Volunteers help their My Guide partner do things others take for granted.

“This might be regular trips to the shops, a coffee house, local social club or even simply for a walk.

“As the person with vision impairment grows in confidence, volunteers can help them establish lasting relationships with community members who, in turn, can help them get out even more.”

Jan Thomas, 68, who lives in Goldington, would be lost without her My Guide partner Sandie Anderson, a property sales manager from Henlow.

The mother-of-two, who had retinitis pigmentosa as a child and has since developed glaucoma and cataracts, said: “We have a similar sense of humour and I really enjoy her company.

“I’ve also become fitter because we go for walks – without Sandie I wouldn’t be doing a lot as I wouldn’t be getting out.I really appreciate the fact that although she works, she’s still prepared to give some of her free time to me.”

Sandie, 60, was inspired to volunteer because her mum lost her sight.

She said: “I’m a social person and knowing I’m doing some good and seeing someone benefit makes me feel I’m putting something back into the community. Even a busy person like me can find the time to do this.

“Jan and I have a good relationship, we have a laugh and I get to share in the success when she achieves her goals.”

> Lisa has a waiting list of people waiting for My Guide volunteers. If you’d like to help, call her on 07468 711999 or email Lisa.Cooke@guidedogs.org.uk