Today there was a workshop for branch organisers and treasurers, but any other branch members could go too. It was to explain the changes that have recently taken place between guide dogs and who does what now that the team all had different roles. Because of the recent stuff going on between the branch organiser i said i would go with the branch organiser so she didn’t have to be alone with the treasurer as things had kind of started to kick off again. It got to the point that she didn’t want to be in the same house as the treasurer.
We were orriginally going to get the train from a different station but when we discovered there was no parking we went to our local station just.
The treasurer wasn’t that bad on the way up and didn’t mention anything horrible.
We happened to arrive early for the workshop, so we went for some tea and toast instead at a local caffe.
At about 10 past 10 we headed over to the equality commission building which was where the workshop was being held. We were one of the first there. We were soon joined by Lark the retired guide dog who came trotting over to see Ushi. Then Inis the german sheperd came and a woman with a dog called Leena who was like a smaller version of Ushi. Along with a dog called Jumble. There was a puppywalker there too as well as some other organisers and treasurers.
We chatted for a while before a woman from Scotland came and started the day off. She is called a branch development coordinator and works to set up new branches. She is based in Scotland but covers Northern Ireland, Scotland and the north of England i think. She also said that there was a new handbook to be given to branches soon which would explain all the rules and regulations about fundraising and what could and what couldn’t be done.
Next was our community fundraisor, who I would have called the fundraising coordinator. I guess i should say their titles from now on because god knows who is reading.
Next, our volunteer development coordinator got up to explain about how what used to be known as the national volunteer office is not known as that any more and it is now called the “person resource office” or something. She explained all about new volunteer clothing that volunteers could wear if they wanted, but that they would have to pay. We all agreed this shouldn’t be happening, and that is something that will be looked in to. She also explained all about a new initiative called “volunteer voices” which means that there will be a group of volunteers selected to take issues forward other volunteers are having and feed it back to the guide dogs team. So for example if speakers are having an issue, whoever was a speaker on the forum would report the issue then report back to other speakers.
Next the mobility support supervisor said a few words about her role. She basically looks after all the admin staff. They would deal with all the enquiries coming into the team.
It was around lunch time, so we all stopped to stretch our legs and eat. The branch organiser braught me and her some sandwiches as the sandwiches served the last time we were at the equality commission were very small and didn’t have a wide selection. So we had some nice ham sandwiches and a goahead bar for afters. Ushi had some carrot sticks. I gave some to Leena who was in front of us too.
After a busy break for the dogs we were back on track again. Our community engagement officer spoke next. She goes out to talk about potential guide dog ownership within the local social services as well as with different organisations. She is also a “My guide” coordinator which is the name for the
Training i took part in last year.
Next, it was the communications officer. (I can’t remember his title). He is responsible for anything to do with communications such as press releases, blogs, and anything else that is to do with PR.
Next it was the campaignes manager. He talked about all the campaigns Guide dogs are taking part in such as the talking busses, microchipping dogs, vat on dog food and shared streets. (The guide dogs site is crashing firefox, so i’m not going to link to each campaigne). The talking busses campaign has had some encouraging results. While there is no money available now for the audio visual information to be installed, when it next becomes available it is to get priority and all
Will have it installed. All that has to happen now is for the minister to release the money for it. I personally can’t wait to have the busses announcing each stop.
Finally it was back to the branch development coordinator who told us about the
Northern ireland facebook page
And what we could and couldn’t post on it.
The day dragged on at the end as with every role there were questions so it went on longer than intended. There will be more workshops throughout the year but they won’t be as long and will be a chance to compare experiences and pick up hints and tips.
Unfortunately we had a little problem on the way back. The gap for getting on the train was quite big so it panicked me a bit. Thankfully nothing happened. The conductor was great and held onto Ushi’s collar if she needed help up but thankfully she didn’t. She was reluctant to move forward. The conductor even asked if i would like the ramp put on but i explained that miss Ushi doesn’t like walking on metal which is a real shame.
But apart from that, it was a great, but tiring day.
Last week I got an email from my rehab worker asking me if I wanted to head to a fundraising workshop for Guide Dogs on the 5th April (today). I said that it would probably be alot of sitting around, but decided to go anyway just for the craic. Plus we were meeting up with two other fundraising branches as well as our own.
So at about 20 past 8 this morning, my rehab worker came to collect me. There were two other members who came too. I was the only guide dog owner going though.
We were off to the lovely
When we first arrived, I wanted to spend Ushi since it was such a long journey. Unfortunately, the area we found to spend her was up a rather grassy slope. I didn’t wonder too far with her, and she just didn’t seem interested, so we headed into the hotel. When I was taking her to spend, I didn’t have her harness on, so she was kind of rushing quite a bit.
When we arrived in the hotel, there was a guide dog owner from the “Maidin City” branch waiting at reception. (I don’t know why it was called that). Anyway he had a big german sheperd dog called Innis. (I thought when he said what it was called that it was “Alice” lol). He did a big big massive Woof! to say hi. Ushi then saw another two guide dog owners, and got a wee bit excited. We sat down shortly after that.
We were in a big massive room, which was good. I think it was a conference room or something. The dogs had loads and loads of room which was good.
At about half 10, the workshop started. First of all, we did introductions, and then the fundraising manager for Northern Ireland who was running the workshop started to talk.
First of all, we were asked to produce a “CV” of all our skills as a branch. This sounded quite hard, but once we got into it, it was grand. We then gave feedback and each ggroup read out what skills they had.
Next, we were given a sinarrio to work with. We were branch organisers, and we were organising a collection in “Anytown”. We first had to decide what risks there could be with a collection, then how to prevent the risks from happening.
It all seemed like common sense things, like making sure that if there was a guide dog owner collecting, that they were always with someone else, that people collected in a busy place to avoid anything bad happening, that every hour or two the dog and owner were given a break (Our table were the only ones who came up with this one), that the money was collected each hour, that there were at least two people in a designated place such as a church hall counting money at one time, where to store the money after collection etc. It was quite interesting. We learned that dogs need at least a half an hour break as collecting is quite hard on the dog, and can be quite stressful for them.
We then had feedback on that, then we had to fill in a pretend form for planning an event and budgeting it. Our table chose to do a coffee morning. (these weren’t real events). We were joined by another person from the Derry branch as well as us three from our branch. Apparently when we are planning an event, we can only use a hundred £ from our branch, and if it is over that, we can ask our fundraising coordinator for £500, and if it is something really big like a Ball or something, then the fundraising coordinator and manager have to apply to head office over in England or something.
We then learned about targets for different events. This was something called a “business forecast” or something. This was to plan out a budget for the year or something. We only did a bit of that, then it was lunch.
Lunch was a buffet. I had cocktail sausages and chicken thingies. I later found out that they were wings, which would explain the big bones in them! During lunch, my rehab worker took Ushi out for a pee break, which thankfully she did go which was good. During lunch also, we played “Card Bingo”. This is where you get a pack of cards, and whoever has one card left wins. You can use any cards, and you charge for each packet of cards. Obviously we didn’t charge. Apparently it can make a good 4 or 500£ extra!
After lunch, it was back to the “business forecast” thing again.
Afterwards, it was just answering questions, and then what we do with the money when we get it which was what we covered before in the risk assessment thing.
We headed home after that.
Ushi was far more behaved than I expected her to be. She spent most of it sleeping! When she did get up, she just sat around and looked all over the place. She did try to say hi to some other guide dogs, but she wasn’t that excited since we were away from the nearest one. At one point she was lying under the table, but kept trying to slide further and further in, so I had to get someone sitting opposite me to take her lead and bring her round to be again lol.
When we were heading to the car, Ushi really rushed, so we had to keep slowing down. I think she was dying to go to the loo though, so I suppose it can be forgiven. For some reason she did a big busy even though she had done one this morning! Maybe all that sitting around got her going lol. At least she didn’t do it inside which is good.
She has been konked out ever since. She got up for her food, but headed back to bed shortly afterwards. I didn’t work her today though cause I had a feeling she just wouldn’t work lol.
It deffinetly wasn’t as boring as I expected!
Oh by the way, i’m still looking for a team for
The Pub Quizz
On Thursday. If I can’t get a team, then I don’t think i’ll be going :(. Will let you know though!