Interview of the ‘Lara’ Guide-Dog School Hellas – Incubator 1st Cycle

1) A few words about the organization’s goals, work and results so far.

The ‘Lara’ Guide-Dog School Hellas is an NPO that was founded in 2008 in an attempt to have dog guides in Greece as a service for people with vision loss. Its main purpose is the training of guide dogs teams while introducing the Guide-Dog movement in Greece in order to promote and enhance independence to blind and visually impaired people. To date, the school has included 15 dogs in its program and has successfully trained 6 guide dogs and 3 dog- assistants (companion). It also trains people in mobility and walking sticks, and has succeeded in voting and advocating the legislative framework on access to guide dogs and has “seen” the dog-drivers in Greek society. Furthermore, it trains people to walk using walking sticks, and has succeeded in voting and advocating the legislative framework on access to guide dogs and has “taught” the guide dogs the Greek society. Finally, it helps to solve the problem of strays and animal abuse by implementing strict standards of education and welfare for its dogs.

2) How much do you think your participation in HIGGS Incubator program helped you and why?

Our participation in the program has contributed to the reconstruction of the organization “under a roof”, giving us a fixed point of reference and meeting. It taught us how to work under specific procedures and to make the most out of our time. It also brought us in touch with other individuals and organizations that can contribute to our work and taught us that “we are not alone”, but that our goals and anxieties are similar to those of other organizations.

3) Can you list the areas where you have improved and give us some examples?

Internal and external communication: we organized two successful press conferences, a public awareness event and a training seminar for our members. Organizing the internal documents of the organization and the amendment of its statutes regarding the best use of its aims. We also received support and training on how to write proposals.

4) Why would you advise other organizations to participate in the Incubator program?

I would suggest that you apply to the Incubator program in order for you to start steadily and with proper support the first steps of your organization. HIGGS provides free, comprehensive advice in various sectors (legal, accounting, communications, sponsorship) in an accessible and friendly environment that goes hand in hand with the anxious spirits of those who want to change a situation.

5) What are your next steps? Would you like to share with us some of your next actions?

Having spent a year at the Incubator, we have experienced our own strengths and weaknesses. We remain in co-operation with HIGGS and being committed to the goal, we continue with emphasis on our strengths. It would be important like more funding to take place and at the same time, “Lara’s” services will expand in areas that will benefit. An action that we are aiming at directly is to harness stray dogs and integrate them into our educational program. We also need to train more mobility and guidance instructors with a dog guide. Finally, we wish to target individual programs and services that can bring revenue/profit to the organization.

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