Leading national law firm Blake Morgan has announced the appointment of Guide Dogs Cymru as their charity of the year in Wales.
Guide Dogs Cymru provides life-changing mobility services to adults, children and young people with sight loss throughout Wales. As well as providing guide dogs, the charity also provides a wide range of other community-based support services to people with sight loss. Their purpose is to provide life-changing services for the independence of people living with sight loss and their friends and family.
The charity has been selected as Blake Morgan’s charity for the next two years, following a staff vote. Staff in the firm’s Cardiff office are already busy planning a calendar of events to raise funds for the charity, with all money raised helping towards the cost of funding Guide Dogs’ work. In addition, the firm will be working closely with the charity to promote volunteering and wellbeing opportunities.
Guide dogs are often a lifeline for many of the 100,000 people in Wales living with sight loss. Guide Dogs Cymru aims to help them move around safely and confidently, to get out of their homes and live their lives the way they choose. The charity breeds 1,300 puppies a year at its purpose-built breeding centre, placing them with volunteers for their first year before embarking on intensive guide dog training. It costs £55,000 to support a guide dog from birth to retirement, and the charity relies on donations to continue its life-changing work.
Around 250 people in Wales are currently supported by guide dogs and in 2018, 40 new guide dog partnerships were created in Wales. Demand for the charity’s services is ever growing – over the past seven years the waiting list for guide dogs has grown by more than 25%.
Staff at Blake Morgan kickstarted their partnership with the charity with a ‘meet the puppy’ session to mark Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May).
Andrea Gordon, Engagement Manager for Guide Dogs Cymru, said:
“We look forward to working with Blake Morgan to highlight the many issues facing people in Wales who are blind or partially sighted. These include dangerous pavement parking, challenges to their right to access services and facilities, and the need for a more inclusive built environment.
“We will be engaging with staff to promote equality and diversity and offering the opportunity for individuals to volunteer with us and train as community sighted guides.
“And of course, there will be plenty of cuddles on offer from our guide dogs in training, plus the chance to name a guide dog puppy and follow its progress.”
The charity was nominated by Partner Simon McCann, who will take a hands-on role working with Guide Dogs Cymru to identify opportunities and to match them up with potential volunteers in the Blake Morgan team.
Eve Piffaretti, Head of Blake Morgan in Wales, said:
“We are pleased to announce our partnership with Guide Dogs Cymru. Our aim is not only to raise funds, but also to engage and educate our team on the issues around living with sight loss, as well as providing them with volunteering opportunities and the chance to get to know the many brilliant guide dogs working in Wales.”
The announcement comes after the office raised over £10,000 for Cardiff homeless charity the Huggard Centre between 2017 and 2019, and over £19,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society between 2015 and 2017.