Lindsey volunteers as a guide runner for a partially sighted gentleman called Dan, who is supported at one of United Response’s services in Teddington. Here, she recalls how she first came to volunteer and how it has changed her life.

I’ve always enjoyed running, but, back in 2012, I realised that it had become a little samey, so I began to look for a new angle on it. After watching the Paralympic Games, I was so inspired that I started to investigate how I could volunteer to become a guide runner for someone United Response supports.

I work at United Response’s head office and was introduced to Dan through a local service manager, who knew I enjoyed running. Dan is partially sighted so needed someone who could run a longer distance with him on a regular basis; Dan was already a good, fast runner, but he wanted to increase the distance he ran.

Memorable, marathon achievements

I have been volunteering with Dan for just over a year and in that time we have run two half-marathons together! Dan is now persuading me to – hopefully! – run the 2016 London Marathon with him.

Running with Dan is such a great experience. Dan is proof that if you really set your mind to something, it’s possible; for instance, he’s also a keen horse rider.

Together we have learnt the best ways to communicate with one another when out on a run, like Dan teaching me some Makaton, which has come in handy when I’m out of breath running up a hill! We have built up a good friendship and often enjoy a chat on the phone outside of our running. I have also got to know his parents and sister, who are lovely.

Try volunteering for yourself

Volunteering and getting to know Dan has been great fun, and I feel proud to have met him and have the opportunity to share some great experiences with him.

If you are thinking of volunteering, I would highly recommend it because you can combine it with passions you already have, while learning new things that you would never have been able to do in your day-to-day life.

Lindsey Simmonds, project manager.

Click here to find out more about volunteering for United Response.