Update - April 2021
Our COVID-19 roadmap for restarting all activities
On 22 February, Boris Johnson announced the government’s roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions in England. Similar plans for getting back to normal have recently been shared by the governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. So, what does this mean for recommencing our services? We’re urgently needed.
We know that the visually impaired community has been hugely impacted by the pandemic and that there is a pent up demand for the services we provide, whether that’s for a guide or buddy dog, for habilitation work, or indeed for My Sighted Guide, which we know has been enormously missed during the lockdowns.
Our COVID-19 roadmap is the blueprint for how and when all our services and volunteering activities will — in phases — return to normal. We can’t go into all the details in a single communication as it’s far-reaching, dependent upon the UK government’s roadmap and tailored to individual circumstances, volunteering roles and geography. However, we can share with you that we intend to fully recommence all services and volunteering by around mid-June.
Before then, we expect to move to an interim phase in mid-April where most services and volunteering activities can resume within indoor environments whilst following government guidance and our standard COVID-19 protocols. This includes services such My Sighted Guide, habilitation in non-education settings, and training for individuals and groups (excluding residential training).
As we’ve all experienced last year, the pandemic is unpredictable so our plans — like the government’s roadmap — will be subject to change if COVID-19 cases begin to increase or restrictions are reintroduced. However, our top-level plan is to get back to normal as soon as possible.
We’ll update our service users and volunteers as and when circumstances relating to your service(s) or volunteer role(s) changes.
- We've been in touch with our suppliers and have been assured by our core suppliers for dog food and veterinary medicines, that they have significant supplies within the UK and as a priority customer they're confident that our supplies will not be impacted.
- Please continue to order as normal and we ask that you don't stockpile. We're continually monitoring the situation and will update you if anything changes.
Clinically extremely vulnerable service users and volunteers
- Volunteers or service users who are clinically extremely vulnerable must not take part in any activity outside of the house.
Habilitation, orientation and mobility work
- This will currently not continue for adults and children within a school or home environment.
My Sighted Guide
- Sighted guiding can continue off-arm at a distance of 2m. outside, barrier items must be worn and there can be no sharing of equipment.
- Training for My Sighted Guide is not possible at this time.
- Activities can take place at a 2m distance, but this must have been reviewed by us.
- Door-to-door or face-to-face fundraising is not possible.
- Puppy raising (formerly called puppy walking) can go ahead working at a distance of 2m from others.
- Puppy classes are not permitted.
- Fostering (formerly called a boarding) (with volunteer drop off in own vehicle) can go ahead working at a distance of 2m from others. We're asking fosterers (formerly called a boarder) to wear a mask when collecting and dropping off a dog – both on site and outside.
- General dog training can go ahead working at a distance of 2m from others.
- Free running support can go ahead working at a distance of 2m from others.
- Class/partnership training and practical assessments can go ahead under certain conditions (please contact us for details).
- Rehoming of dogs will continue.
Guide Dog sites
- All our sites are now closed to safeguard our staff, volunteers, service users, donors and dogs. This means that only technical and business critical staff who need to be in the workplace to perform their role should come to a site.
Whether you’re asking for yourself, a member of your family, or your child, give us a call (between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday) and speak to someone from Guide Dogs who understands what you're going through.
How we can help...
How we’re returning back to normal
At Guide Dogs, we’ve set out our Way Forward plan to help us focus on a careful and phased approach to reopening our sites and restarting some areas of work, services and activities.
It’s important that many areas of work, including our services and volunteering resume so we’re there to support people with sight loss to live independently, actively and well. This is more significant than ever as we navigate our way out of lockdown.
Our plans continue to follow government advice and every decision is based on ensuring the health and safety of service users, staff, volunteers, donors and our dogs.
As always, please refer to your Government’s website for the latest COVID-19 information, advice and support materials. There is different guidance and rules if you live in:
The Government has set out its plan to return life back to normal. The following guidance applies to England:
If you live elsewhere in the UK, please check the guidance for your country in the above links.
- World Health Organisation
- NHS (includes links to NHS advice for all four nations)
- NHS Inform (Scotland)
- Sight Advice FAQ
You must follow government guidelines, abiding by social distancing and self-isolation where appropriate. If you get COVID-19 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. Our emergency out of hours number is 0345 143 0217.
We appreciate that times are really difficult at the moment, however we need your support now more than ever before to make sure we can continue to provide our life-changing services to people with sight loss. Your contribution, however small, will go a long way. Thank you.
From catching up with friends over a cuppa, to striding out for your daily exercise, there are so many ways you can help us support people with sight loss during this pandemic.