Speakers Training For Guide Dogs

This is a long one, so sorry. There was just that much information.

There are alot of new changes coming into effect for the guide dogs organisation. Today those of us who wanted to be speakers had to go on a one day training day to learn how to structure our talks we do. Techneclly we shouldn’t really be doing talks i don’t think until we have had this training. I’m not really sure why we need it to be honest.

I wasn’t really looking forward to the training today as i thought it would be a very formal thing. I hate formal things! I had chatted to someone who is a speaker and she said it was just stuff we already knew, and it wasn’t formal at all. It was just things like how it costs £50,000 for the lifetime of a guide dog and such.

I decided to go anyway but to be honest i wasn’t expecting much.

My friend wasn’t bringing her dog but she was going to meet me outside my house. My rehab worker arrived however just as she got there. I went into the kitchen and Ushi ran from me to the front door because she could hear my rehab worker outside. She did this a couple of times until i opened the door.

We then picked up the branch organiser too and headed up to Belfast.

We were in the Equality commission building which i think is near Botannic gardens.

There were quite a few dogs there. There was Yoyo who is a 9 month old pup i think, Ushi of course, Another puppywalker who had a dog called Nigel (she didn’t have him with her), Guide dogs Ivie, A german sheperd called Berry, Katy, and i can’t remember the other ones. I didn’t know there was more than one german sheperd here in Northern Ireland, but apparently there is at least 4 or 5. I was sitting beside little Yoyo who had quite a curly back and he was tiney. Oh and there was also a pup called Henry there who i found out doesn’t like rain either so i’m not the only one who has a princess dog.

We all introduced ourselves at the start and talked a little about our dogs. The fundraising coordinator who was running the day then talked a little about how when you are talking it’s not a formal thing. If you are nervous she said to shorten your talk. I worried in case they wouldn’t like if you were looking at what you had been given but she said that that is no problem and that you can just glance and then go on. She said that people would rather that you did make the odd mistake and if you weren’t hung up on it they wouldn’t care. We were then handed this big massive case which is our fundraising packs we can take with us on a talk. We can talor it so we don’t have to use everything that we get.

First of all there is this huge accordian type folder which is designed for us to leave at home as it makes the case really awkward to carry. This folder has a green receipt book which we use if the place we talk at wants to donate to us. We then take that receipt to our branch organiser or our district team and they will attach a white receipt to it to show that the money has been received propperly. I don’t really understand how that works.

Next in the folder, we have posters if somewhere is fundraising or doing an event for us. There are two big posters and smaller A4 sized ones which can be used if they didn’t have alot of room for example.

Next was bags for donating your old ink cartridges and envelopes for donating your old mobile phone which is then recycled i think and guide dogs gets the money. I’m not sure how that works either.

There were little business cards but unfortunately because the pack was made in england it was all england numbers. Apparently you can score out that number and write your number or something.

We then had loads of donation envelopes, “Get together” leaflets which is a fundraising initiative to encourage people to get together such as coffee mornings or dances.

There are leaflets which you can give to a teacher who you are thinking of doing a talk for.

There are evaluation forms, which go off to Forfar in Scotland. They aren’t giving feedback on you particularly, just the talk in general.

There are “jar labels” which you can give to peple if they want to collect money in a jam jar or something.

There are “gifts in wills” leaflets which we all agreed would be a difficult subject and to avoid people being asked to leave a gift you could leave the leaflets just sitting so that people could pick them up if they did want to donate. (2 out of three dogs are funded this way).

We had leaflets talking about
Sponsoring a puppy
Where you basically receive regular “Pupdates” and photos and such. The fundraising coordinator told us that some people don’t believe they are real pups who are being sponsored, but they are because apparently one of the pups being sponsored died so all the people who had sponsored it had to be written to to explain the sad news.

We had bigger leaflets for
Naming a puppy
Which i think is more for businesses. It is £2500 to name a pup and £5000 to meet the pup. For example
Who are a ferry company named a pup Alphy i think last year.

There were also leaflets for applying for a guide dog and a booklet for what it would intale if you did apply. (I think it was pointless having these in print but i suppose if you knew someone who was blind or something).

Finally i think there are little money box kennels and they say something like “can you fill your kennel?”. I thought they were pritty cool! I gave my three year old brother one and he was all happy because he got a “wushi” (Ushi house). (Any golden lab is Ushi. He even saw Andrex toilet rolls one day and said that we needed to get Ushi some!).

I’m so glad we don’t have to take the accordian folder with us and can just pick and choose what we take depending on what kind of talk we were doing.

By this time it was time for a busy break for the dogs and some lunch for us. We couldn’t find any grass so we decided to see if she would go on this little square of gravel since other dogs had just gone before her. She went no problem! I was quite shocked at that because she never usually goes on concrete unless it is by open water like a river. I still haven’t figured out why she still needs to go then lol. Luckily i don’t pass many rivers lol.

Lunch was a selection of sandwiches and fruit. Unfortunately the sandwiches weren’t really the best and i spent most of the time picking all the salady stuff out lol. (I hate Salad!). The fruit was nice though lol.

After lunch we started to look through the actual case part. This is full of leaflets on what we should be talking about. We don’t have to use everything but we can use some things. it is things like about guide dogs, how many blind and partially sighted people have a a guide dog, guide dogs other services, Buddy dogs, campaigning, and a breakdown of what a certain amount of money will buy such as £13 for the harness or £25 for a selection of toys. There is also information on volunteering, asking for money (If we don’t want to ask for money we could always say about volunteering apparently). It wouldn’t be direct asking just about how it costs £50,000 throughout one guide dogs life, how it costs £46,000,000 to run the whole guide dogs organisation each year, and how we get no government funding. I asked why we don’t and apparently if we did the government could say who should get a guide dog and who shouldn’t and they would have the final say. I didn’t think the government would be allowed to do that! So that is why apparently guide dogs don’t have it because they don’t want it.

There is also an envelop of badges that say “I’m a guide dog hero” which you can give to kids. We also have some bookmarks. We are only meant to give out the badges to a few kids. The fundraising coordinator suggested that we could give a badge to someone who asked a question or something. That would certainly encourage questions if they knew they would get a free badge! I don’t really think that’s fair though, so i’ll probably have bookmarks, badges and those kennel money boxes if i was ever doing a talk to kids.

Again if we run out of anything we can order it and it is free.

All the information in the big case is for kids and adults. The kids version isn’t as complicated.

There is a section when you are doing a talk for you to tell your story too.

You can also get some questions too.

There are a couple of sheets of simulation specs, which are supposed to simulate to people what it is like having different eye conditions. They are just plastic so it would be better if you asked your optition for some frames or something to put them in. I think these are good for awareness, but i’m sure it would be very scary wearing them so i don’t know if i’ll ever use them.

We also got polly pockets to keep things in.

Finally we have some DVDS we can use for our talks. I think they are like the amazing journeys people take with their dogs and stuff. I don’t actually know since when i put them in they wouldn’t work on my computer. If we need DVDS for kids we can request them but we would have to give them back.

The case comes out into what looks like a lecturn which you can use to read from or that. It takes up less room when you are doing that, and if people are looking at your sheets it takes the focus off you.

I am going to put a braille sheet in with each of the information sheets to keep me write too. So that’s going to be a bit of hard work, but i prefer reading the stuff. I can then just glance at it rather than reading off a sheet. There is nothing worse than reading off a sheet the whole time.

I found out that if you can’t get to a place you can have a volunteer driver taking you. They prefer you to take public transport, but if you can’t they will provide a driver.

I have my first talk on the 15th December at Portrush primary school. If we don’t want to do a talk at any time we can just say no and that is that which is good.

It was a good day and i’m glad i went. I’m glad it doesn’t have to be all formal either! For my first talk i might just bring some badges or something rather than the big case. I haven’t really decided yet.

Sorry again for the length of the post. It was a long day!