Leading the Way

Partner profile: Guide Dogs

Partner Profile: Guide Dogs

Location: Berkshire, United Kingdom

Mission: Provide people with sight loss the support they need to move around safely and confidently, to get out of their homes and to live life the way they choose.

How does Unum support Guide Dogs? To help improve the quality of life of people living with physical disabilities and mobility impairments, Unum provides support for a few therapeutic and service dog organizations in the US, including Georgia Canines for Independence in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services in Columbia, S.C.

In the UK, Unum has supported Guide Dogs as a corporate national charity partner since the beginning of 2016.

Over the last two years, Unum employees have passionately raised funds for the UK organization through a number of interesting and innovative ways. From bake sales, themed days, golf evenings, quizzes and charity balls to more energetic hiking, cycling, rowing, and running challenges, employees have found ways for everyone to get involved.

“The commitment and dedication to raise awareness and funds for our charity has been fantastic,” Lynda Harwood, National Corporate Partnerships Account Manager at Guide Dogs, said of Unum’s partnership.

Unum has also contributed funds to the organization through corporate programs including: Matching Gifts, Employee Participation Gifts, and Payroll Giving.

What impact has it had on Guide Dogs? During the partnership, Unum has raised more than £45,000 for the charity – enough to name and sponsor six guide dog puppies in training. These Unum-sponsored dogs – Poppy, Buddy, Dougal, Nova and Betty (with another arriving in 2018, yet to be named) – will go on to provide support for those with sight loss and help them regain their freedom and independence.

In the UK today, almost two million people are living with sight loss and, of those, around 180,000 rarely leave their homes alone and many suffer from depression and struggle with feelings of isolation. Donations are critical to funding the support and resources Guide Dogs provides.

Why does Unum support Guide Dogs? “The charity’s mission aligns so well with Unum’s purpose – helping people move beyond disability,” said Susan Sanderson, corporate social responsibility manager for Unum UK.

Sanderson says working with Guide Dogs has had a profound impact on Unum employees as they’ve gotten to watch the puppies transition from cute, uncoordinated puppies to inspiring, life-changing guide dogs and meet those who benefit from the dogs’ guidance, company and support.

“During our partnership with Guide Dogs we have had the opportunity to meet some truly amazing and inspirational people,” she said. “Helping these individuals have a new lease of freedom and independence is so inspiring and means a huge amount to everyone at Unum.”

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