How ‘brilliant’ volunteers helped Helen get her life back after sight loss

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WHEN Helen McGrath lost her sight unexpectedly after having a stroke four years ago, she had no idea of the range of invaluable things volunteers at Guide Dogs do.

But after they helped her to regain her confidence, she has become one of their biggest champions, and is helping the charity to reach out to people across Leeds who may be able to give some of their time to support people with sight loss.

The mum-of-two, 47, of Spofforth near Boston Spa, said her life was “put on pause” when she first lost her sight, but Guide Dogs changed that. Initially, a volunteer taught her to use a white cane, so she was able to get out and about, and within a year, she received her Guide Dog Yuppi, who was funded by children at a Leeds primary school. She now helps the charity by speaking at events.

“It was such a tough time when I lost my sight but Guide Dogs were brilliant,” she said. “It’s amazing what they can offer, from My Guide volunteers, who help people do things like shopping, to volunteer drivers. People think volunteering for Guide Dogs is all about shaking a money tin in a supermarket, but there are so many different roles, and you can give as little time as you have to offer.”

Ruth Wood, volunteering consultant for Guide Dogs in Leeds said: “Each group runs its own events which are many and varied and can be great fun and a good way to make new friends.”