Blind World Magazine

United Kingdom.

July 18, 2005.
National Federation of the Blind (UK).

Two organisations of blind people join together to campaign against the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association on its current poor administration and guide dog service.

The Circle of Guide Dog Owners and the National Federation of the Blind of the UK are concerned that the administration, communication to guide dog owners and potential guide dog owners is poor, and our real concerns are the length of time blind people are kept waiting for their first guide dogs and subsequent replacements, anything from three months to three years or even more.

The new structure of 29 districts instead of seven regions means that standards and quality of training vary greatly throughout the country, and because people are now trained in small groups or individually it is often necessary for the instructors to spend a great deal of unproductive time in travelling.

Many guide dog owners are not happy about training in hotels, and neither do they wish to train at home, and the lack of residential training centres means that there is very little opportunity for peer support for those in training, which in the past has been very helpful particularly for people training for the first time. In addition there is no opportunity for training staff at all levels to mix together providing peer support for one another which makes it particularly difficult to provide adequate training for new apprentices. Also, fewer units are being trained each year, and there appears to be no forward planning for the provision of dogs.

Over the years many guide dog owners have been involved in fundraising for the Association and publicising its work, and greatly resent the fact that money collected for the provision of guide dogs is being spent on research into human eye conditions and campaigning on various subjects which have for many years been covered by other very hard-working organisations, while the guide dog service has been cut to the bone. The organisation is now very top heavy with people who have management qualifications but no experience of guide dog work, or even understanding of the needs of blind people. There are some guide dog owner trustees, but they are hand-picked and represent their own views only.

Although there has been a joint campaign since 1972 for representation on the governing council of the Guide Dogs Association, by the Federation and the Circle, neither of these organisations nor any other organisations of blind people have been accepted.

The provision of a really high class guide dog service such as that which was provided until about eight years ago is very expensive, so we do not wish to discourage people from donating to the Association.

However, it would be very helpful to guide dog owners of the present and future if members of the public wishing to make a donation, or leave legacies in their wills, would specify that the money and all interest accruing to it for the remainder of the life of the Association, must be spent on the guide dog service, and especially on the re-establishment and running of at least some of the large residential training centres.

Please support us in forcing the powers that be into providing the kind of high quality and efficient organisation envisaged by Captain Liakoff in the nineteen thirties. Source URL:

End of article.

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