Read what a volunteer has to say about being a sighted guide
My experience of being a Guide for Visually Impaired Adults
With my children having flown the nest and being in the fortunate position of not having to work full time and a husband who is happy for me to go away, I went on my first trip as a guide in 2001 It was a walking holiday in the Cotswolds and I was soon knocked into shape by the V.I.s present. I quickly learnt that everyone had different needs according to their degree of sight loss. Some born blind, some with peripheral vision, some tunnel vision, some recently blinded by some accident or medical condition. But those brave enough to undertake such holidays are determined to enjoy themselves and get as much out of life as possible.
My next trip was to Vietnam, a real challenge for us all and then followed another 28 others, walking, sightseeing, crafts, sailing, canoeing etc. with an organisation which sadly has now folded.
I heard about educational courses for the Visually Impaired at Bristol University and started helping out there. If only I could remember all those facts, science, music, history, nature field courses etc. When the University funding folded a group of regular ‘students’ and guides got together to form a group now known as AddVenture In Learning. The aim being to enjoy learning whilst having an enjoyable break from home.
The social side of the courses is also very important, giving people chance to meet other V.I.s, discuss problems and achievements. Being able to enjoy being away from home with someone else doing the cooking and knowing that there are sighted guides to help find the way around in strange places. The guide dogs also enjoy being off duty and romping around together when space allows.
For me guiding has been a wonderful experience. I have made many friends. It never ceases to amaze me at the capabilities of people with little or no sight. It can be very tiring at times requires great patience. Chatting as you walk along describing the scenery or what is going on (your V.I. usually lightly holding your arm). Having to watch every step, remembering to say curb up or curb down, door away to your left etc. I hope I have not failed too many times.
I can’t help feeling that there are many visually impaired people and potential guides who have not yet ventured on one of these courses and would benefit greatly from them. So if that is you, do get in touch, you are missing a lot of fun. Also if you know of any suitable venues providing single rooms at a reasonable price or have any ideas for courses the committee would love to know.
I hope I can continue guiding for AddVenture in Learning for many years to come.
Barbara Rickitt July 2014.
About being a Sighted Guide
Each year Add-Venture in Learning holds a variety of residential Themed breaks – about 5 days in length – in various areas of the UK for visually impaired people over eighteen. The programme for each break includes talks, discussions and visits. Sighted people are needed to act as guides for the students. No experience is necessary as training in guiding techniques will be provided.
- Expected to accompany there visually impaired student for the duration of the break
- Attend evening lectures if any are taking place
- Must be physically fit for that particular break, please check event details before booking
- May be required to share a room.
What do I do as a guide?
Your role as a guide is to assist your student at mealtimes and with general mobility on the daily visits. On visits, you will be invaluable, making sure that your student is safe and has the opportunity to see everything of interest.
During lectures you may be asked to help with practical activities, pass objects round and you will be able to listen to the range of experts. Ideally you will have an interest in the topic under discussion but you are not expected to be an expert.
Guides are asked to make a subsidised donation to help cover costs. The specific amount requested varies from Themed break to Themed break but can be found in the application details. If you cancel your booking with more than 4 weeks notice, your deposit will be refunded, less an administration charge of £30. If you cancel with less than 4 weeks notice before the start, a charge will be made unless we can fill the place. Joining instructions and further information will be sent before the relevant Themed break starts.
How to become a volunteer guide
If you would like to volunteer please download and fill in the application form. We will then let you know if we can use you as a guide as soon as possible. If you have any questions or wish to discuss any aspects of guiding, please contact :
Isobell Phillips on 07731 867931 or e-mail email@example.com