Scotmid staff, customers and members have taken the lead in fundraising for the community retailer’s charity partner, with funds raised through a range of activities, including in-store raffles, physical challenges and community events.
The funds raised will make a significant difference by training two Guide Dog Mobility Specialists and three Habilitation Specialists, as well as setting a whole litter of puppies off on their journey to become future life-changers for people affected by sight loss.
Mobility Specialists play a crucial role in partnering guide dogs with individuals facing sight loss. Such partnerships enhance general mobility, while also fostering confidence and independence.
Habilitation Specialists focus on equipping children and young people with essential skills to lead independent and active lives. From fostering early physical development to enabling safe navigation of streets, they provide comprehensive support.
Tracy Dryburgh has been a Habilitation Specialist, based in Forfar, for more than five years.
She said: “I previously worked as a Pupil Support Assistant with children with vision impairment. My role included supporting children with their mobility, so when I heard about the opportunity with Guide Dogs, I was keen to find out more.
"I spend most of my time out and about working with children and young people in various local authorities across Scotland. It’s very rewarding helping children and young people become more independent and self-sufficient.”
Kyla McVicar, Guide Dogs Scotland business development manager, said: “We’re blown away by the efforts to raise funds and awareness for Guide Dogs. We’re now in a position to raise and train a whole litter of guide dogs and five new highly trained specialists - this will help fund hundreds of people who struggle with sight loss.”
To ensure each child or young person gets the support they need, everyone referred to the habilitation team is assessed to establish what their current needs and abilities are, from there a personalised plan is created.
Tracy continued: “We support with areas such as early movement, dressing skills, road safety, mobility, cooking skills, and transition between nursery, primary, secondary and college.
“I love my job; it has a lot of variety due to the age range we cover, and the different vision conditions the children and young people we work with have. Some days, I go from helping a little one to explore their nursery surroundings, to supporting a teenager to travel home from school independently or teaching a primary school pupil to tie their shoelaces.”
John Brodie, Scotmid Chief Executive, added: "Guide Dogs works tirelessly in our communities to improve the lives of adults and children affected by vision impairments, as well as their families.
“We're proud of everyone who got involved and helped raise a fantastic amount for such a worthwhile cause. I would like to personally thank each and every one of you."