‘School bus drivers’ needed to help trainee support dogs get to lessons in Sheffield

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Support Dogs, a Sheffield-based charity which provides and trains assistance dogs to help autistic children and adults with epilepsy or autism to live more safely and independently, is looking for more volunteer drivers.

The role involves picking support dogs-in-training up from their foster homes in the morning, driving them to Support Dogs’ training centre near Meadowhall, and taking them back home at the end of the day.

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Dog lover Mike Jordan, aged 69, has been a volunteer driver for the charity since January 2023.

Support Dogs volunteer driver, Mike.Support Dogs volunteer driver, Mike.
Support Dogs volunteer driver, Mike. | Support Dogs

Mike, who lives in Rotherham, stepped into the role looking for “purpose and routine” after retiring as a teacher, as well as wanting to “give something back”.

He said: “It’s a chance to, even just once a week, get into a work environment and have the feeling I’ve got colleagues, who I appreciate and respect. The social aspect is very important to me.”

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At their training sessions, dogs learn how to support people with a range of disabilities before they are later matched with an owner.

Mike added: “I’ve also been given some training on how to handle the dogs, in terms of the commands used, so they get some consistency.”

He usually handles four dogs on each trip, using one of Support Dogs’ vans.

Fellow volunteer driver Paula Robinson, who works for South Yorkshire Police, took up the role in February.

She said: “I love dogs and I like driving – it’s ideal voluntary work and the staff are all really nice.”

To find out more, please visit www.supportdogs.org.uk/volunteer-driver or call 0114 2617800.

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