You may know that Winnersh Triangle is home to a wide range of organisations, but you may not know that the business park is also the regional base for those working on four legs as well as two: Guide Dogs.
Guide Dogs’ Reading Mobility team has 34 staff working at Winnersh Triangle, together with dedicated volunteers. The team enables blind and partially-sighted people to get out and about on their own terms across five counties: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, West Sussex and Surrey. There are 22,000 people registered blind and partially-sighted in these counties alone.
Every hour, another person loses their sight. Guide Dogs, the national visual impairment charity, works to ensure that when this happens, they don’t lose their freedom too.
At any one time, the Guide Dogs team based at Winnersh Triangle is supporting 250 canine companions for adults, young people and children.
Life for a guide dog starts at 14 months old, when the pups leave their puppy walkers to start life as a trainee at one of the charity’s 24 sites. Each dog spends around 16 weeks with a trainer learning the basic tasks required of a guide dog, before being transferred to a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor for 10 weeks, when they are matched with a person with sight loss.
An impressive total of 77 dogs that were trained at Winnersh Triangle have progressed to become fully qualified guide dogs. However, the process is expensive – it costs Guide Dogs £56,800 to support a dog from birth to retirement.
In 2016, Guide Dogs matched 828 people with a canine companion – of these, nearly half were first time guide dog owners. Guide dogs can enhance the lives and independence of visually impaired people, and by the end of the year there were 5,015 successfully active guide dog partnerships.
Could Guide Dogs help you or someone you know? Or would you like to find out more about how the extraordinary work of the dogs and the Reading Mobility team is helping people with sight loss to regain their independence? Visit Guide Dogs.
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Alice Simpson / Carrie Lowe at Remarkable Content