Talking Buses- Tackling the big ‘R’

Baroness KramerOur campaigns volunteer Rachel shares her experiences of the Talking Buses Parliamentary Reception from July 2014.

“Ever since I started volunteering with the Guide Dogs Campaigns team back in March, the Reception has been the big ‘R’ word on everyone’s minds.  This, I was told, was one of the ways we would  make a difference, this was how we would bring our message home about Talking Buses, the big day it was all working up to – but don’t worry nothing to be nervous about, nothing at all no way.

The amount of work, and thought, and careful planning that went into this event has been huge, and I’ve been very proud and fortunate to be able to contribute even a little bit to that work.  (I’ve also been enjoying immensely being able to casually drop the phrase “you know that Parliamentary Reception I’ve been working on..” into conversation at every opportunity)

In my two days a week in the Campaigns office I’ve only been witness to a small proportion of this giant effort, but will nevertheless proudly tell anyone foolish enough to ask how I spent the morning inventing happy and sad place names to make the invitations more eye-catching (personal favourite, ‘DESOLATION DRIVE’), or thanking and encouraging campaigners who emailed in for all their valuable help in writing to their MP. There are still sometimes nights, a week on, when I wake up in a cold sweat dreaming that someone had found another couple of hundred MP handouts for me to alphabetise…

The final couple of days of preparations were a blur of activity as we all struggled to prepare handouts for all but a handful of the 650 MPs: collating comments, adding name and constituency, printing, checking and double-checking our work.  Ash’s immortal line at 4pm the day before the reception was stilling ringing in our heads in the taxi to Westminster – “You haven’t even folded them yet? Oh, wow.”

Stationed on the reception desk on the day, I was one of the first in line to meet and greet MPs, a chance to finally put faces to the names I’d been staring at on my screen for so long.  It was hectic, and sometimes stressful, but incredibly gratifying to have so many MPs come along to reward our hard work and support a very worthwhile cause. The dogs were adorable, the speeches were moving, and the cakes looked delicious although I didn’t have time to try them (my one regret).

I’ve now been working on the Talking Buses campaign for a few months, during which time I’ve read hundreds of comments from campaigners and guide dog owners, and I know how important Talking Buses are to them.  However, it was only when I found myself passionately explaining to one cornered MP how vital they are that I realised how important the cause had become to me, as well.  I only hope the big ‘R’ has made a difference.”

You can support the Talking Buses campaign too by taking our latest online action.


Douglas , 10:40am Fri 24 Oct 2014:

I called into Edinburgh council on Monday as very frequently the talking buses haven't been working (I use the number 1 and the number 30) as they haven't been working. However when asking the the bus drivers as to why they aren't turned on I have been receiving quite hostile and sarcastic responses such as "she has a sore throat" or "she is off on holiday" which I don't feel is acceptable as I don't get any real genuine answer. I wanted to let you know that this has been happening in the hope that these issues can be resolved and so other blind/partially sighted people aren't received in this response. thank you

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Volunteer Rachel portrait

Volunteer Rachel