Being a Guide Dogs volunteer means being part of a community, no matter who you are, where you come from, or what you do. Guide Dogs volunteers are united in making a difference to people with sight loss, but that doesn’t mean volunteering is one size fits all. Our volunteers are a unique bunch with different interests, motivations, hobbies and inspirations – so here are just a few reasons to join our community.
You won’t be alone – there are over 17,000 Guide Dogs volunteers all over the UK!
You can try many roles – many of our volunteers have multiple roles, and we always encourage volunteers to have a go at something new. Our volunteers are not limited to just doing one role, you can sign up to as many as you want.
There’s something for everyone. Not sure if puppy raising is for you? Want to dip your toe into fundraising? No problem. We have almost 80 volunteer roles so there’s bound to be something to suit your interests.
Help is always on hand - Each of our roles will have you paired up with a volunteer manager, who will act as your key contact for anything regarding your volunteering role. They will never be more than a phone call away to support you with any questions, big or small.
You won’t be out of pocket – Whether it’s the cost of fuel to get to a fundraising event or the food to keep your hungry puppy’s belly full, Guide Dogs will cover your expenses.
You can make a fashion statement in our iconic pale blue polo shirt, provided free of charge to all Guide Dogs volunteers.
We are always here for you - Our Volunteering Coordinators are first port of call experts for all matters relating to Guide Dogs. They will know your local team back to front. They will be able to advise you on volunteering policies and practices as well as answer any questions you may have about how we support people with sight loss.
And volunteers are always there for each other – Whether it’s sharing lifts, supporting each other through the sleepless nights of puppy raising, or just being a friendly face, our volunteers are welcoming and supportive and many have made friends for life.
You will make new friends - We host local Volunteer Socials once a quarter, so that you can make friends and meet your peers. If you prefer coffee, cake and a chat or something more interactive like a ‘bring along a friend’ BBQ to help us recruit more volunteers, we’ve got something for everyone to enjoy!
You can follow us on social media for behind the scenes updates. Each of our regions have a dedicated Facebook page, with updates about local staff, volunteers and dogs. To join your regional Facebook social media page, search for Guide Dogs followed by your region. For example, Guide Dogs South West.’
We also have a dedicated Volunteers at Guide Dogs Facebook page with regular updates and some of our favourite caption competitions.
We will keep you in the loop –Guide Dogs volunteers receive a monthly newsletter, plus regular updates related to their role or local site, making sure you are always kept informed of what is going on.
Our volunteers have their own exclusive online portal, the Volunteer Information Point, with news, updates and resources.
Our life-changing dogs support their guide dog owner, but they help our volunteers too. Did you know that being around dogs can lift your mood? In fact, 65% of dog owners told us that having a dog improves their mental health. When you volunteer for Guide Dogs, there are plenty of opportunities to be around our dogs. From our Puppy Raisers who provide a loving home to a puppy, to our Dog Wellbeing Volunteers who provide support for our training dogs on site. Even as a Fundraiser, you will get to meet our dogs at different points of their journey, as they make a regular appearance at fundraising events.
The UK’s first guide dog partnerships qualified in 1931. Since then, thanks to our dedicated staff, volunteers and supporters we have partnered over 36,000 people with a guide dog.
Volunteering for Guide Dogs is not a new phenomenon – today’s volunteers are continuing a proud legacy that started at the very beginning of Guide Dogs.
The money raised by our phenomenal fundraisers goes a long way, and makes a real difference to people with sight loss. .
In 2022 our groups and community fundraising team raised over £6.2 million!
For example, £6 could support a working guide dog partnership for a day.
£16 could buy a ‘puppy in training’ jacket for one of our pups.
£27 could pay for an hour of specialist training for a guide dog.
£138 could buy a starter kit for a guide dog partnership, providing everything they need to start their new life together.
You might be surprised at some of the roles we have available – for instance, our drivers provide invaluable support for someone with sight loss, staff, or fellow volunteers, through helping them to get from A to B.
You could look after a guide dog dad…
Or a guide dog mum…
And her newborn puppies! - Our breeding dogs live with volunteers near our base in Leamington Spa, and most of our puppies are born at home. You can support potentially dozens of future life changers and even help bring them into the world.
If you want to volunteer with a dog but can’t commit to full-time care, some of our volunteers provide temporary boarding for a puppy or dog e.g. holiday cover.
You can Make Every Cuppa Count – it’s not all muddy paws and standing in the rain! Volunteers can Make Every Cuppa Count when you host a tea party, coffee morning or bake sale on Friday 19 April for Guide Dogs. Small or large, at home, work or school – every penny you raise will go towards helping us provide life-changing services.
Whatever role you take on, we will set you up for success – from online training to in-person support, Guide Dogs will always be there to help you every step of the way.
It takes around two years to raise and train a guide dog – from the breeding dog holders, to the puppy raisers, to the training dog fosterers, a lot of volunteer hours go into supporting our dogs behind the scenes until they qualify.
Not all our pups go on to be guide dogs – some will become buddy dogs instead, helping a child with sight loss. No matter what path a dog takes, our puppy raisers do amazing work to set them up for their future!
We are world leaders in puppy socialisation, breeding and training more dogs than any other organisation in the world, so our volunteers are really world class.
We will celebrate you! From the annual Local Volunteer Awards to Long Service Awards and our ‘pat on the back’ scheme, we want you know we are grateful for your support.
Our volunteers can be nominated for our People Awards, recognising the unsung heroes who make a difference through their volunteering – like Marilyn, our Person-Centred winner: ‘Everyone who has contact with her leaves feeling encouraged and built up and she has so much wisdom and experience which she brings to her roles.’
Volunteer Lisa won the Expert award: ‘Lisa appeared in person on television and radio with their current puppy, advocating the cause of Guide Dogs and seeking to recruit new Puppy Raisers. For a volunteer to subject themselves to such media exposure is a highly significant step but one taken with hope and commitment by Lisa. Her can-do, pleasant and warm attitude is a lesson to us all.’
The Optimistic award went to Yvonne, who took up puppy raising for us a few years ago after being diagnosed with terminal pulmonary fibrosis. Now her specialists are absolutely delighted with the condition of her lungs which are now stable as a result of the exercise she gets running after puppies.
The Partner award went to the Sevenoaks Fundraising Group in recognition of the outstanding contribution that each of them has made over the years to ensure that Sevenoaks is not just one of the most successful fundraising branches in the South East but in the UK.
Catherine won the Lead by Example award for developing and managing several successful relationships and events with local venues including Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Co-op as well as attend fetes and school events. She is amazing at selling trading stock and has had a real impact on ensuring Guide Dogs has a presence within her local community.
The Engage award went to Lynda, who has shown a huge passion for helping others. She works brilliantly with her clients and is always finding new ways to support their needs. She is friendly, approachable, pragmatic and not phased by barriers. She is a joy to work with.
Janet and Clive won the Princess Alexandra Award. Janet and Clive have been volunteering for Guide Dogs since 1981 and they have given a loving home to over 100 of our dogs. Their unwavering dedication and passion for the work of Guide Dogs is an inspiration.
The Chairman’s Innovation Award went to Terry, volunteer and guide dog owner, whose life was transformed by the arrival of guide dog Spencer. Despite his sight loss, Terry now creates laser crafts which he sells online to raise money for Guide Dogs.
Everyone is welcome! Every volunteer at Guide Dogs contributes to helping people living with sight loss to live actively, independently, and well. We welcome everyone with open arms no matter what your interests or background.
You might find yourself doing something unexpected, like appearing on BBC Breakfast to help us appeal for more puppy raisers…
…Dressing up as a guide dog and walking over 1,000 miles…
…Or going the extra mile and running a marathon for Guide Dogs!
There are 2 million people living with sight loss in the UK and this number is set to double by 2050. When you volunteer for Guide Dogs, you help people with sight loss live the life they choose.
More than half of people with sight loss say they feel anxious about the future. We’re here to help people make sense of what is happening, to talk and listen, and provide practical advice and support. Without our volunteers, we couldn’t do any of this.
Nearly half of people with a vision impairment can feel isolated and cut off from the people and places around them - Feeling isolated has a huge impact on a person’s mental health and confidence. For many people our guide dogs and our services are the key to a life of independence and freedom, and it’s all supported by volunteers.
We couldn’t do what we do without you! Every hour you volunteer with Guide Dogs makes a difference to helping people with sight loss live actively, independently, and well.
Thank you to all our Guide Dogs volunteers for all that you do – if you are interested in joining our community please visit our Volunteering website.