The work of a Carluke woman in acting as the eyes for folk with sight problems is being cited in a nationwide campaign to recruit more volunteers like her.
Award-winning Evelyn MacIntosh works as a volunteer with the charity Guide Dogs, her efforts recently being recognised in the customer-focused category of its annual local volunteer awards.
A spokesman for the charity explained: “The My Guide service matches a person who is blind or partially-sighted with a trained volunteer, and the charity is urging people in the South Lanarkshire area to sign up.
Evelyn is currently working with Raymond Mullen, of Uddingston, to provide him with support and encouragement and develop his confidence.
They go out regularly, taking part in a wide range of activities together.
Evelyn said: “I feel surprised to have been chosen as I probably get more from volunteering than I give, and I am quite overwhelmed by the award.
“I enjoy the banter and arranging things for Raymond to do. We often have a hilarious time.
“I would encourage other people to get involved as you get so much back from doing it.”
There is little doubt that Raymond feels that the help of his seeing pal from Carluke has been a life-altering experience for him.
He commented: “Since Evelyn and I started working together, there have been massive changes.
“My confidence and self-worth were at a very low ebb, but she subtly encouraged me to start going out a wee bit at a time, such as going for walks down by the river and to local shops.
“Slowly, I began to really look forward to her coming.
“My health isn’t great, and she is very understanding when I can’t get out and about.
“Instead we sit and blether with a cup of tea. I have opened up with Evelyn.
“When I’m fit, we go swimming as it’s something I enjoy.
“I still find it hard to believe that Evelyn even arranged for me to go horse-riding.
“Evelyn is just happy to help in any way she can and always lends an ear when I need one. It was great for me for Evelyn to achieve the award as she has definitely changed my outlook on life, and I will always be grateful.”
Guide Dogs Scotland’s My Guide ambassador, Sheena MacKinnon, said: “Some people with sight loss aren’t able to get out independently to do things that most people take for granted, but My Guide volunteers can change that.
“My Guide is a scheme which pairs volunteers up with people with sight loss to help them get out and about, and there are people with sight loss across Lanarkshire who are waiting to be paired with an enthusiastic volunteer.
“If anyone can spare a few hours a week, we would love to hear from them.”
No previous experience is required for potential volunteers.
The charity will put volunteers through training and then support the partnerships that ensue.
Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Sheena by telephone on 07785 433 227 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org