Covid-19 Advice for our service users

All our local teams are being briefed on specific matters related to coronavirus (Covid-19) and are being updated regularly as the situation evolves.  If we can't resolve your enquiry immediately we'll take your details, investigate and get back to you within 24 hours.

On this page

We recommend that you contact your local team directly rather than seeking information elsewhere - as we'll then be in a position to provide you with accurate, current and practical guidance.

To find out the right number for your area please see our Local Mobility Teams contact details page.

Thank you for following this guidance.

The current outbreak of coronavirus puts us all in an unprecedented situation, but we have plans in place and will continue to provide support to you throughout this worrying time.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and we'll continue to update our webpages to provide you with the latest advice, so check back regularly.

Our commitments

  1. We'll support the well-being of our staff, volunteers, service users, and of course our dogs, in every way we can during this difficult time
  2. We'll maintain our services wherever possible, however, in accordance with government guidelines we're stopping all routine face to face services, moving them to telephone or online communication where practicable
  3. We'll continue to adapt how we support you in light of the changing situation, and in line with government advice

What we're doing

  • We'll replace all face to face contact, such as assessments and training between staff and services users, with telephone calls, emails, etc. to support your well-being
  • Volunteers or staff will telephone or email users of the My Guide service to offer support and advice
  • We'll continue to provide support to existing guide dog partnerships by phone or email wherever possible
  • We've stopped all guide dog residential training in hotels and in-homes and the dogs are being cared for by staff
  • All guide dog training has been suspended
  • We'll continue to monitor government guidance and post up to date advice and info on a regular basis
  • We'll resume our normal pattern of work as soon as possible, bearing in mind our duty of care to our service users, volunteers and staff
  • We'll still take enquiries from adults looking to find out more about our services, however, we're currently unable to progress these applications but will let you know as soon as this changes here on the website
  • Our children and parents services will continue to function via our advice line. This includes education and family support and assistive technology grants
  • We're unable to take any new requests for mobility training for adults, however, we'll log details of your enquiry and will contact you when the situation changes. Again we'll let you know right here on the website when this changes

Pete Osbourne, our Director of Operations, and a guide dog owner himself, was on the BBC's Radio 4 In Touch programme, setting out our initial plans.

Guidance and support

There is a lot of public information available and we recommend the following websites:

We recommend you follow government guidelines, abiding by social distancing and self-isolation where appropriate.

If you get Coronavirus symptoms (persistent cough, high temperature, etc.) please call your local Guide Dog office to notify us that you are ill. If you need to go into hospital please call us, or arrange for a friend to call us, to let us know. The emergency out of hours number is 0345 143 0216.

Our offices and centres

We have asked our staff to work from home wherever possible. Our central office in Burghfield remains open during core hours (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday). and we'll continue to answer your calls and provide support in person, whilst adhering to social distancing measures.

Forfar, Atherton, Redbridge, Leamington Spa training schools and all our Community Team offices are now shut. Our National Breeding Centre will continue to operate but with essential staffing only. You can still reach all our Community Teams by phone and we'd love to hear from you and offer support. 

The welfare and standard of care for our dogs remains a top priority and all our dogs are safe and well, being looked after by staff and our amazing volunteer boarders.

Suspension of CustomEyes service

It is with deep regret that due to high demand CustomEyes is having to suspend any new book orders until further notice. We are working through current orders as quickly as we can but we do expect a delay

We will of course resume our normal service as soon as we can. We hope our list of FAQs answers any queries regarding your orders.

Frequently asked questions

  • What's happening with the My Guide service?
    For the time being we've replaced our My Guide volunteer service with phone calls or emails from volunteers and staff to support your well-being.
  • What's been put in place for mobility and other life skills training, and for our information and support services?
    For now, these services have been replaced with phone calls and emails, in line with government advice, to protect you and our staff.
  • What's been put in place for our children’s services? 
    For the moment most of these services have been replaced with phone calls and emails, in line with government guidelines, to protect you and our staff. However, we are still looking to continue children’s services not delivered face to face, such as the parent advice line and family support services.
  • I’m over 70 or have a serious health condition. Can I still go out to exercise my dog?
    Yes, so long as you adhere to the government’s social distancing recommendations, avoid groups of people and only go out once a day.
  • What should I do if a volunteer usually comes to exercise my dog?
    Please arrange for the safe handover of the dog, wherever possible, considering social distancing. For example, perhaps you have a safe garden or a porch into which you can put the dog once the volunteer has arrived to pick them up. 
  • How can I make sure my guide dog gets enough free running time?

    You, and friends or family members that live in the same household as you, can still free run your dog, as long as you/they have had the training to do so. However, in line with government guidelines, you can only leave the house once a day for this exercise.

    We'll soon be sharing podcasts on physical activities, including free running, and how you and other members of your household can make your dog's living space more interesting and stimulating to prevent boredom.

    If you've been advised to ‘shield’, that is not to leave your home for a number of weeks, please call your local team and talk with one of our Canine Specialists, so that we can agree a plan of action for your dog

    Now that the government has issued guidelines on not mixing with people outside of our own households, our volunteers or staff that carry out dog exercising and free running, sighted guiding, dog training or mobility training can no longer help with taking your dog for a free run.This is to protect both you and them.

  • What will happen if my usual free running volunteer is taken ill?
    If this happens, please call your local guide dog office and we will make arrangements on a case by case basis.
  • Will I still be able to order my dog’s food as normal?
    Yes – please follow normal ordering procedures. You don't need to order additional bags of food, as we've been assured there's plenty of stock available. If you have concerns around the ordering or delivery of your dog’s food, please call your local office.
  • Can I catch Covid-19 from my guide dog, or from a family pet?

    The spread of COVID-19 is from human to human transmission. So far there's no evidence that pets or assistance dogs spread the virus or that they can be infected or unwell.

    We've taken guidance from our chief vet and have been advised that whilst it would be possible for a dog to carry the virus on its coat, it would be very unlikely that this could then infect you. 

  • What happens if I have to self-isolate with my dog? 
    If you need to self isolate but are well enough to care for your guide dog, please notify us and we'll keep in regular contact by phone. 
  • What are the guidelines around exercise?
    If you're well, with no symptoms, we recommend that you exercise your dog as normal, but keep two metres away from other people and avoid large groups. 
  • Can we go into supermarkets earlier – as with older people?
    Sainsbury’s have confirmed that they're welcoming our service users in the restricted opening hours and most other supermarkets are offering a similar service. As the timings vary from store to store, we recommend you contact your local shop to find out the details.
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