Blind and visually impaired people are being hit by a shortage of guide dogs caused by the pandemic.

When Covid hit three years ago, Guide Dogs had to stop its breeding programme as well as cancelling many of its fundraising activities.

The knock-on effect is now being felt, with many people having to wait up to 18 months for a new guide dog.

Debbie Pitts, group volunteer organiser for Guide Dogs Ledbury and Malvern, said: “One lady in our patch had been independent for 20 years but is now facing a wait of two years for a new dog.

READ MORE: Guide Dogs launch urgent appeal to find guide dog mums loving home

“We’re involving her in events and keeping her a part of the Guide Dogs family.”

Malvern mayor Nick Houghton named Guide Dogs as his chosen charity for the year and Malvern Town Council has helped raise £1,000 for the charity by producing a Guide Dogs calendar.

“It is lovely because of all the local dogs featured, it’s got a lot of people interested from that point of view,” said Debbie.

'A really social charity'

“But we really are in need of volunteers. It’s a really social charity and we get a lot of people volunteering because of the social side of things.”

There are dozens of volunteer roles available with the charity including puppy raisers, training dog fosterers, dog exercisers and My Sighted Guides, who help people with sight loss to get out and about.

Guide Dogs says 95% of guide dog puppies are born in volunteers’ homes and spend their first six weeks in that home environment.

They then undertake 12 to 18 months of training in order to become a guide dog.

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You can find more information on volunteering at and you can contact the Ledbury and Malvern team by emailing

The charity should get another financial boost in April when the Mayor’s Peaks Challenge 2023 takes place. The event will see entrants tackle either a 15km or a 7km walk across the Malvern Hills.

The council is hoping to raise £10,000, which would allow it to sponsor and name a guide dog puppy.