Scotmid Co-op raises £295k for charity partnership with Guide Dogs

'We're proud of everyone who got involved and helped raise a fantastic amount for such a worthwhile cause'

A charity partnership between Scotmid Co-op and Guide Dogs has raised £295,000 to support people living with sight loss.

The money, raised by the retail co-op’s colleagues, customers and members throughout the year with activities such as in-store raffles, physical challenges, bingo nights, and community events, will fund the training of two guide dog mobility specialists and three habilitation specialists, as well as setting a whole litter of puppies off on their journey to become future life-changers.

Mobility specialists play a crucial role in partnering life-changing guide dogs with individuals facing sight loss. Such partnerships enhance general mobility, while also fostering confidence and independence. The result is expanded opportunities for social interaction, reduced isolation, and an improved ability to navigate the community.

Habilitation specialists focus on empowering children and young people with vision impairments, equipping them with essential skills to lead independent and active lives. From fostering early physical development to enabling safe navigation of streets, preparation of meals, financial literacy, and technology usage, Habilitation Specialists provide comprehensive support.

Kyla McVicar, business development manager at Guide Dogs Scotland, said: “We are blown away by the efforts made by Scotmid staff, members and customers to raise funds and awareness for Guide Dogs. Thanks to them, we are now in a position to raise and train a whole litter of guide dogs and five new highly trained specialists –– this will help funding hundreds of people who struggle with sight loss.”

John Brodie, Scotmid CEO, said: “Guide Dogs works tirelessly in our communities to improve the lives of adults and children affected by vision impairments, as well as their families. We’re proud of everyone who got involved and helped raise a fantastic amount for such a worthwhile cause. I would like to personally thank each and every one of you.”

The success of this charity partnership serves as a testament to the impact that collective efforts can achieve. Through the generosity and dedication of Scotmid and its supporters, countless lives will be positively transformed.

Tracy Dryburgh, a qualified habilitation specialist with Guide Dogs for over three years, works on mobility, orientation, and independent living skills.

“I previously worked as a pupil support assistant with children with vision impairment,” she said. “My role included supporting children with their mobility, so when I heard about the opportunity with Guide Dogs, I was keen to find out more. I have worked for Guide Dogs for over five years now.

“My base is the Guide Dogs Regional Centre Scotland in Forfar, but I spend most of my time out and about working with children and young people in various local authorities across Scotland. It’s very rewarding helping children and young people become more independent and self-sufficient.”

To ensure each child or young person gets the support they need, everyone referred to the team is assessed to establish their current needs and abilities, from there a personalised plan is created.

“We support with areas such as early movement, dressing skills, road safety, mobility, cooking skills, and transition between nursery, primary, secondary and college,” added Dryburgh.

“I love my job; it has a lot of variety due to the age range we cover, and the different vision conditions the children and young people we work with have. Some days, I go from helping a little one to explore their nursery surroundings, to supporting a teenager to travel home from school independently or teaching a primary school pupil to tie their shoelaces.”

16-year-old Jamie is from Aberdeen and has been supported by Guide Dog Scotland’s Children & Young People Service since she was 11.

She said: “Since working with Tracy, I have grown in confidence and independence. We have worked on my general mobility – learning to use my cane to get around school – as well as learning the route to travel there. We also did some work on cookery, so I have learnt some skills to be able to cook independently. Now I would like to walk to my local Scotmid, find my way around the shop and buy my own lunch.”

Dryburgh will continue to work with Jamie, who is currently in high school and hopes to go to university to study musicology.

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