By Jorge Martinez de Lizarduy Araico, Specsavers Opticas
IN March Specsavers Opticas announced the launch of its national fundraising campaign in aid of ONCE Foundation for Guide Dogs (FOPG), to help support vulnerable people with severe vision loss.
We have pledged to raise more than €5,000 over the next year, to support the important work of the FOPG and shine a light on the incredible service it provides.
What is ONCE?
ONCE stands for the Organizacion Nacional de Ciegos Españoles, or the Spanish National Organization for the Blind.
It is a charity working hard to improve the quality of life for the blind, those with visual impairment and disabled people in general throughout Spain.
They have 72,231 members (figure correct as of 31/12/2019) and of those 87% have a severe visual impairment and 13% are completely blind.
What is FOPG?
Under the umbrella of ONCE sits another charity; Fundacion ONCE del Perro Guia (FOPG) – the ONCE Foundation for Guide Dogs.
The foundation runs the only centre which breeds and trains guide dogs for blind people, or those with serious vision loss, to help them gain better mobility and more independence.
It provides its services to people with visual disabilities throughout Spain, by virtue of the collaboration with ONCE itself, which offers the guide dog as a free social service for people affiliated with that organisation who request it and are eligible.
The foundation breeds its own dogs and takes responsibility for the entire process of training the guide dog and pairing it with the most suitable applicant.
They also train the new owner how to make best use of this mobility aid and supports both the owner and the dog throughout its life as a guide dog.
Why has Specsavers Opticas chosen FOPG as its official charity?
As an opticians, we’re passionate about improving the lives of people with sight loss, so we’ll be doing all we can throughout the year to raise funds for the foundation.
A guide dog makes a huge difference to the lives of those with vision loss, but it takes a long time and a big investment to breed and train these very special dogs and support their owners throughout their lives.
So the charity needs donations to ensure that each person who needs a guide dog can have access to one.
Why is it important that people have access to guide dogs?
Vision loss can be incredibly isolating, leading to feelings of loneliness and depression.
However, thanks to the foundation and the work they do, people can gain a new sense of independence and confidence.
The work of this foundation is essential to increase the autonomy of blind people or those with a serious visual disability.
Changing from walking with a cane to doing it with a guide dog represents a huge improvement in their mobility, speed and security of their movements and allows them to integrate with society in a much more meaningful way.
Find out more about FOPG www.perrosguias.once.es
All nine stores in Spain are supporting this charity campaign. Visit www.specsavers.es to find your nearest store.