Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind (established 1976) is a registered and trusted charity, which provides life changing services and supports to people who are vision impaired and to families of children with autism.
We have registered as being ‘On The Journey’ to Compliance with the Governance the Governance Code for the Community, Voluntary and Charitable Sector in Ireland. Our Board has made a formal commitment to undertake a process to fully comply with the Governance Code by mid-2017. For more information on this Governance Code check out www.governancecode.ie. For full and quick access to our Governance documentation including our annual report please click here.
Our services for people who are vision impaired are, Guide Dog Training, Orientation and Mobility Training (Long Cane) and Independent Living Skills Training for adults, and a Child Mobility Training Programme for children in primary and secondary education. We also provide Assistance Dogs to families of children with autism.
All services are offered free of charge and we provide full aftercare and support to clients.
Our core purpose is, through our services, to enable as many people as possible who are vision impaired and families of children with autism to enjoy an improved quality of life and to provide them with the highest level of support. Our services are offered nationwide and we have clients in all 26 counties. We breed and train our dogs in Cork and client training programmes are offered on a residential basis at our Headquarters and Training Centre in Cork.
We currently have extensive waiting lists for all our services which we are addressing through building capacity and through increasing our efficiency and effectiveness. It will cost in excess of €5 million to run the organisation in 2016. We receive approximately 15% (€838,000) of this in statutory funds, the remainder we are working to raise through voluntary fundraising and donations. In 2015 we were required to draw almost €500,000 from reserves in order to meet the shortfall in fundraising income.
Our services and support for vision impaired people enable them to more fully participate in education, work, travel and leisure. We provide people with the confidence and skills to move about independently and to get to where they need to be without being dependent on others.
Through being independently mobile, using a Guide Dog or Long Cane, a vision impaired person can get to school, college, work, the gym, entertainment venues, meetings, or leisure activities. This has a significantly positive impact on their physical and mental wellbeing as well as improving their financial wellbeing.
Our Child Mobility Programme supports children from 4-18 to participate in mainstream education.
Through this programme they acquire mobility and independent living skills which enable them to fully participate in education in their home area or further afield. This has a significant impact on their quality of life, as it ensures that they have equal opportunity with siblings and peers.
Our Assistance Dogs programme for families of children with autism has a significant impact on the quality of life of the child with autism and his or her family. Through the positive changes which occur having been matched with the dog, the child with autism is better able to function in the home and critically in the external environment.
This makes it possible for parents, the child and their family to travel (as a family) and enjoy activities and leisure together. They are more included in their community, more equal in terms of participation in society and their physical and mental health is greatly improved.
We created 59 working dog partnerships in 2015 and we plan to expand this to 70 partnerships in 2016. There are currently 178 working Guide Dog Partnerships and over 250 working Assistance Dog Partnerships which have been trained and are supported by Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind.
We have working Guide Dogs and Assistance Dog partnerships in every county in the country. We have also trained and are supporting a number of children and adults in each county with either Long Cane Training and/or Independent Living Skills Training. We provide personalised support and aftercare for all clients in their local area including support in the home, work or educational establishment.
We have thousands of volunteers nationwide who support the organisation by raising funds, or who support the training and husbandry of our dogs in training, fostering and breeding.
We advocate at a local and national level for all clients to ensure that we address and resolve issues in the built environment, education, travel leisure etc. While our HQ is in Cork we have an office in Dublin where fundraising staff, volunteers and dog training support staff are based. Our Association Members are evenly spread across the country, some of whom have been supporters for up to 40 years. Our fundraising volunteers are actively promoting the organisation in practically all communities nationwide.
Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind is proud to be a member of VISPA (Vision Impaired Service Providers Alliance), which includes Fighting Blindness, Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, NCBI (National Council for the Blind of Ireland) and ChildVision - the National Education Centre for Blind Children (formerly St. Joseph’s Centre for the Visually Impaired). Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind is also a member of the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs Europe.
Irish Guide Dogs was the first to launch an Assistance Dog Programme in Europe and the demonstrable success of our work over the past 11 years combined with established ties with professionals, including the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCC, in the field of ASD provides a solid platform upon which to increase the effectiveness and sustainability of the Assistance Dog Programme.
Our Staffing Structure
We have 77 staff in a mixture of full time and part time roles. The majority of staff operate from our Cork HQ with a team of 4 operating in Dublin.
The CEO has responsibility for strategic and day to day running of the organisation. The CEO reports to a 12 person Board of Directors.
The Board agree the Strategic/ Operations Plans and annual Budget with the CEO who implements them under their supervision. The Senior Management Team, comprising of Head of Fundraising Marketing & Communications , Head of Operations, Financial Controller, Management Information System and Continuous Improvement Manager and the Human Resources Manager report to the CEO. A number of team leads and supervisors (middle management) report to the senior managers.
The Senior Team report to the CEO on a monthly basis on the performance of their function against the objectives and targets of the business plan. The CEO reports to the Board on a monthly basis with more detailed reporting at the bi-monthly Board meetings.
Our Funding Structure
- We are fully committed to the highest possible standards of governance and compliance.
- There are no top-ups paid to management/employees of Irish Guide Dogs.
- The average salary of our 77 staff members (70 full time and 7 part time) is €35,000 per year.
- The Irish Guide Dogs Board of Directors is made up of 12 volunteer directors. Board members do not receive any remuneration for their role.
- Irish Guide Dogs is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee (Company No: 55616) with charitable status and not having a share capital (Registered charity no: CHY6006).
- We are one of the earliest adopters of FRS102 (Financial Reporting Standard) and have been SORP (Statement of Recommended Practice) compliant since 2008. Compliance and adoption of these standards being a key reference in the Charity Sector.
- In 2009 our Board of Directors implemented a comprehensive governance code which guides our board and management in best practice. It is reviewed and updated annually.
- In 2013 we signed up to the code of practice for Good Governance of Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations in Ireland.
- We are signed up to The Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising which sets out the best practice for dealing with donors, volunteers and fundraising activity.
- Our audited financial statements are published on our website.
Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind is committed to ensuring that all our communications and interactions with the public and our supporters are to the highest possible standard. The views of the general public and our supporters help us to ensure that we continue to improve our services and response.
Feedback and Complaints Procedure
Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind welcomes both positive and negative feedback.
We welcome feedback on any aspect of our work. You can contact Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind in writing, by email or by telephone.
Please provide as much information as possible and let us know how you would like us to respond to you.
In the first instance, your comment will be dealt with by our Chief Executive Officer.
Please write to:
Chief Executive Officer
Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind
National Training Centre and Headquarters
Model Farm Road
Tel: 021 4878200
We treat as a complaint any clear expression of dissatisfaction where it is claimed that our activities have not accorded with fair or sound administrative practice and have adversely affected the person by whom or on whose behalf the complaint is made.
Therefore we aim to ensure that:
It is as easy as possible to make a complaint
we treat it seriously whether it is made by telephone, letter, fax, email or in person
we deal with it quickly and politely
we respond accordingly - for example, with an explanation, or an apology when we have made an error and information on any action taken.
In the first instance, your complaint will be dealt with by our Complaints Officer. Please give us as much information as possible and let us know how you would like us to respond to you, providing relevant contact details.
Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind
National Training Centre and Headquarters
Model Farm Road
Tel: 021 4878200
Our complaints procedure
If you complain in person or over the phone, we will try to resolve the issue there and then. Similarly, if you complain by email or in writing we will always acknowledge your complaint within 7 days, and do everything we can to resolve it within 21 days. If this is not possible, we will explain why and provide a new deadline.
What if the complaint is not resolved
If you are not happy with our response, you may get in touch again by writing to Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind’s Chairman. The Chairman will ensure that your appeal is considered at Board level and will respond within two weeks of the appeal having been considered by Board members.