Featured Member - Guide Dogs NI

7 Jan 2014 Shauna O'Neill    Last updated: 4 Jul 2019

If you want to be able to live a full life and contribute to your community, you need to be able to get out and about.

For the last 30 years Guide Dogs NI has been in the business of making sure that if you lose your sight, you don’t lose this vital ability.

Guide Dogs NI's world class guide dog service is at the heart of what they do, but they recognise that it’s not for everyone. Because of this, they are developing and delivering more services and campaigning on issues that will help blind and partially sighted people retain their independence.

Guide Dog Service

The guide dog service has transformed the lives of more than 30,000 people UK wide and this number grows every year. You don’t need to have lost all your sight to apply for a guide dog. In fact most people who own a guide dog still have some vision. It costs just 50p to own a guide dog and Guide Dogs NI provide all equipment free of charge and even cover the cost of all vets bills and food if required.

Children and Young People

Guide Dogs NI are developing a specialist mobility service for visually impaired children – and their families – to help them develop body and spatial awareness, core physical mobility, as well as mobility and orientation skills, so they can live life to their full potential and enter adulthood with confidence.

My Guide

Thousands of people who are blind or partially sighted are isolated by their vision problems; leaving home alone is inconceivable, visits out are rare. The My Guide sighted guiding scheme trains volunteers to help people with sight loss to get out of their homes and back into their local community, before identifying other people or groups within that community who can continue on that support.

Buddy Dogs

Buddy dogs are trained as guide dogs but subsequently identified as being better suited to being placed with young people, their families, or in schools and organisations. They can improve the quality of life of visually impaired young people by developing their confidence, communication and mobility skills. Buddy dogs can also help a young person counter the isolation and depression that is often associated with sight loss.


Guide Dogs NI campaign passionately on issues that affect the independence and mobility of people who are blind or partially sighted. They lobby and work with the NI Assembly, local authorities and other organisations on access rights – help them make a difference by visiting www.guidedogs.org.uk/campaigns for information on active campaigns.

If you are interested in any of the services or campaigns mentioned above, please contact the Northern Ireland Team on 0845 3727402 or email [email protected]

Get Involved

Guide Dogs NI have over 270 dedicated volunteers working all across the province and the organisation couldn’t survive without their support.

Nearly 40% of their volunteers give up 20 hours or more each week to help Guide Dogs get more blind and partially sighted people mobile.

There are more than 25 different roles in Northern Ireland that volunteers can get involved in, here are just a few…

Working with dogs

Over 9,000 volunteers UK wide dedicate their time and energy to caring for our dogs.

In Northern Ireland:

  • Puppy walkers provide the first stage of training for new guide dog pups
  • Boarders look after guide dogs that are between homes

My Guide & Sighted Guiding

Guide Dogs NI have been developing a range of sighted guiding services that help blind and partially sighted people to get around without the aid of a guide dog.

They also have over 40 My Guide volunteers who are matched with a blind or partially sighted person for a set period of time to help them achieve personal goals.


Over 270 volunteers regularly raise funds for Guide Dogs NI. The guide dog service receives no government funding and relies entirely on public generosity – at a cost of over £1 million a year in Northern Ireland alone.

In 2013, 13 local fundraising branches raised over £100,000 for Guide Dogs, a fantastic contribution towards their life-changing work.

If you’re interested in finding out more about volunteering for Guide Dogs, visit www.guidedogs.org.uk/volunteer or call the Northern Ireland team on 0845 3727 402

shauna.oneill@nicva.org's picture
by Shauna O'Neill

Information Officer

[email protected]

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