Uniting for Guide Dogs – our amazing organisers

Jo Stevenson and Dogs Unite Arthur’s Seat

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Jo Stevenson is a Fundraising Group Development Manager for Guide Dogs and organised Dogs Unite at Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, last year. We had a chat with Jo to get an insight into her event.

“The main reason behind organising the event was to fundraise and raise awareness of Guide Dogs,” says Jo. “I chose Arthur’s Seat because it’s an iconic venue with views over Edinburgh, and I had never personally been up it before so I thought this would be a good opportunity!”

Jo found that Arthur’s Seat was a big attraction to walkers. “The walk itself was lovely and it attracted a lot of people- a couple even travelled 40 miles from Glasgow to take part because they wanted to visit the venue!” she says.

The venue was organised through Historic Scotland, who Jo found very helpful. "They gave us the run of the park. It's a beautiful park which is easy to get to and already has an easy circular route for walkers”.

Spreading the word
 
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Jo and the team worked hard to publicise the event locally to raise awareness. “We had an enormous banner which went up outside the Guide Dogs Edinburgh office, and was well spotted from a main road. The event details also went out on local radio and we mailed a poster to all the libraries and community centres in the area, which I think helped attract a new audience to Guide Dogs.”

Jo also managed to involve pet shops in the area. “Local Pets at Home stores added leaflets into their bags, and we also sent posters to all the pet shops in Edinburgh – some put the posters up and others shared the event on social media.”

Unite your walkers

A few simple ideas added a social feel to Jo’s event, such as providing refreshments for walkers and setting everyone off at the same time, which made the walkers feel united. Jo explains: “I would recommend specifying that registration is within a specific time frame, so everyone can be there at the start of your event. We had a united moment at the start by setting everyone off together with a cheer which also allowed for good photographs! We also had marshals along the route to help guide the walkers.”

“People liked the idea of seeing their dogs unite and also enjoyed meeting guide dogs at the event. I also spent a few pounds on cakes for the walkers when they returned, which was appreciated by everyone and meant that they milled around after their walk, offering us an opportunity to speak to them.”

“It was a lovely event and I really enjoyed the camaraderie of the day - everyone was in good spirits.”

Jo’s top tips

  • Our event was held on a lovely day in October but consider the time of year you want to run your event for the best weather. 
  • For venue ideas, take a look at where other popular events are held in your local area.
  • Having a volunteer photographer means that organisers can concentrate on other duties and ensures photographs are of a good quality.
  • I used a board to put post it notes on with messages from the dogs that took part. It was quite sweet to see what some of them wrote and a bit of fun.
  • Finally, don’t forget to bring some water for all the dogs taking part.

 

Organise your own event