Our services for people who are vision impaired are: Guide Dog Training, Orientation and Mobility Training (Long Cane) and Independent Living Skills Training for adults, and a Child Mobility Training Programme for children in primary and secondary education.
We also provide Assistance Dogs to families of children with autism.
All services are offered free of charge and we provide full aftercare and support to clients
Our core purpose is, through our services, to enable as many people as possible who are vision impaired and families of children with autism to enjoy an improved quality of life and to provide them with the highest level of support.
Our services are offered nationwide and we have clients in all 26 counties. We breed and train our dogs in Cork, and client training programmes are offered on a residential basis at our Headquarters and Training Centre in Cork.
We currently have extensive waiting lists for all our services which we are addressing through building capacity and through increasing our efficiency and effectiveness. It will cost in excess of €5 million to run the organisation in 2016.
We receive approximately 15% (€838,000) of this in statutory funds. The remainder we are working to raise through voluntary fundraising and donations. In 2015 we were required to draw almost €500,000 from reserves in order to meet the shortfall in fundraising income.
Our services and support for vision impaired people enable them to more fully participate in education, work, travel and leisure. We provide people with the confidence and skills to move about independently, and to get to where they need to be without being dependent on others.
Through being independently mobile, using a Guide Dog or Long Cane, a vision impaired person can get to school, college, work, the gym, entertainment venues, meetings, or leisure activities.
This has a significantly positive impact on their physical and mental wellbeing, as well as improving their financial wellbeing.
Our Child Mobility Programme supports children from 4-18 to participate in mainstream education.
Through this programme they acquire mobility and independent living skills which enable them to fully participate in education in their home area or further afield. This has a significant impact on their quality of life, as it ensures that they have equal opportunity with siblings and peers.
Our Assistance Dogs Programme for families of children with autism has a significant impact on the quality of life of the child with autism and his or her family. Through the positive changes which occur having been matched with the dog, the child with autism is better able to function in the home and, critically, in the external environment.
This makes it possible for parents, the child and their family to travel (as a family) and enjoy activities and leisure together. They are more included in their community, more equal in terms of participation in society, and their physical and mental health is greatly improved.
In 2016, we trained a total of 248 people. There are currently 165 working Guide Dog Partnerships and over 292 working Assistance Dog Partnerships which have been trained and are supported by Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind
We have working Guide Dogs and Assistance Dog partnerships in every county. We have also trained and are supporting a number of children and adults in each county with either Long Cane Training and/or Independent Living Skills Training.
We provide personalised support and aftercare for all clients in their local area, including support in the home, work or educational establishment.