Guide Dogs and National Blind Children's Society to work more closely

Richard Leaman, chief executive of Guide Dogs, says the skills and experience-sharing agreement is a natural progression

Richard Leaman
Richard Leaman

Guide Dogs and the National Blind Children’s Society have signed an agreement committing the organisations to working more closely together.

The two charities have signed a memorandum of understanding that will involve them sharing their skills and experience to help children and young people with visual disabilities. No merger is involved.

Guide Dogs provides support to blind and partially sighted people and the NBCS works with visually impaired children.

The charities have already been working together over the past two years to improve mobility in visually impaired children and young people.

The charities said the move was not a precursor to a merger, but the NBCS will move into office space already used by Guide Dogs in Birmingham from next year, when its lease on premises elsewhere in the city expires.

Guide Dogs and the NBCS will continue to have their own head offices in Reading, Berkshire, and Highbridge, Somerset, respectively.

Richard Leaman, the chief executive of Guide Dogs, said the agreement was a natural progression between the two charities.

"This is not about a merger, but about making sure where we work together we have got the same operating procedure and agree on what we’re doing," he said.

"This is a natural development and we are certain that by working together we can produce a better result for the children and young people we support."

Carolyn Fullard, chief executive of the NBCS, said that collaborating with Guide Dogs on initiatives to extend training and resources would enable visually impaired youngsters to improve their self-confidence and lead more ordinary lives.

"This is very positive for the society," she said. "We feel strongly that working with Guide Dogs we can make a real difference to the many families with young people who need our help."

Guide Dogs had an income of £57m in 2010 and employs about 1,200 staff. The NBCS had an income of £1.6m in the same year and has about 30 employees.

Guide Dogs was criticised last year by Lesley-Anne Alexander, chief executive of the RNIB, after her charity’s proposal for a merger with Guide Dogs was turned down.

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