Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Coronavirus: Guide dogs owners facing challenges as social distancing becomes new normal

Jon Attenborough and gudie dog, Sam.
Jon Attenborough and gudie dog, Sam.

A Tayside guide dog owner fears the impact on his independence as the nation grapples with social distancing.

Worries over increasing isolation for the blind and partially sighted have emerged following a survey revealing just one on five people would be willing to offer help to someone with sight loss.

Perth man Jonathan Attenborough said Covid-19 has already dented his confidence and he fears it will become more challenging.

Jon said: “Not being able to socially distance is a major challenge to my independence and keeping myself safe.

“Now that lockdown is lifting, other people are trying to get their life back to what it was, but it’s a whole new world for people with sight loss.”

Going into shops and returning to public transport could be particularly challenging for guide dog owners.

Jonathan added: “I don’t always know there is a queue because my dog, Sammy takes me to the door of the shop, not the end of the queue.

“Shops have introduced visual indicators and one-way systems and if you can’t see, they’re a major challenge.”

Guide Dogs Scotland research has found just 22% of the UK public would feel “completely comfortable” offering to help someone with sight loss while social distancing measures were in place.

Not knowing how to help from two metres away and being concerned about making physical contact were major concerns.

The charity has launched a Be There campaign to encourage the public to feel confident in their ability to offer support while still maintaining social distancing through measures including offering help and describing the scene to those with sight loss.

Jonathan added: “It’s a lot for us to adjust to and it would really help if people have an awareness of how they can play their part.”

Guide Dogs regional head of operation for Scotland, Wendy Rankin said: “Lockdown being lifted isn’t the start of greater freedoms for everyone.

“In the past couple of months, we have consistently heard that people with sight loss are concerned about social distancing – even the most confident are lacking confidence in the new environment.”

Meanwhile, the charity has said there are no immediate plans to resume operations at its Scottish training base in Forfar.

More than 80 dogs in training have been permanently boarded out in homes across Tayside since lockdown began.

“The health and welfare of staff and visitors at the centre is of utmost importance,” said a charity spokesman.

“We’re closely monitoring the easing of lockdown stages as led by the Scottish Government, and what measures we can put in place within the appropriate guidelines.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in