OPTICAL staff from Specsavers in Newcastle and the North East spent their day off giving free eye tests and advice to people who are homeless at a special Crisis at Christmas charity eye care clinic on Monday 11 December.

Hartlepool retail director Steven Wheatley, Newcastle’s ophthalmic director Dermot Thompson, Swaledale optical assistant Carmen Lewis and senior trainer Ruth Saddington saw 11 people, several of whom needed new glasses.

The special clinic is part of a nationwide initiative by Specsavers to improve access to eye care for people experiencing homelessness and other disadvantaged groups, such as those who cannot leave their homes unaided.

One in three people who are homeless need glasses, so the clinic, which is one of many running at Crisis centres throughout the country, offers an invaluable service to people who experience eye problems yet can face major barriers to receiving eye care, whether those be financial, residential or not being eligible for NHS support.

‘Every day, we improve people’s quality of life by helping them achieve better sight and hearing. Unfortunately, for the several thousand people that are experiencing homelessness in the UK, it can be incredibly difficult to get access to this care and it is very much a key tenet of our founding vision – to make expert care accessible to everyone, regardless of the circumstances they might find themselves in.’

Ophthalmic director Dermot Thompson

As a charity working to end homelessness, Crisis supports thousands of people to provide education, training and help with housing, employment and health. Through its frontline services across Britain, the charity helps people find a path out of homelessness for good.

“People experiencing homelessness can face significant barriers when trying to access the healthcare they need and can go for years without having an eye test. We know half are likely to develop serious eye health conditions. Being able to connect the people we support at Christmas to vital health care services can make a huge difference to people’s lives and why we’re incredibly grateful to be working with Specsavers to deliver much needed eye tests and advice.”

Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive

As well as running eye care clinics at Crisis outreach centres, Specsavers is collaborating with Vision Care for Homeless People, Big Issue and other homelessness services to create long-term solutions to tackle this health inequality.

Specsavers is also calling for changes to government policy to remove unnecessary barriers that make it difficult for people experiencing homelessness to access the eye care they need.

Long-term plans include influencing policy and systems so people experiencing homelessness can access free eye tests and glasses, domiciliary services and replacement glasses if broken, lost or stolen.

To find out more, visit specsavers.co.uk/news-and-information/community/homelessness

Get Newcastle Magazine direct to your inbox.

* indicates required


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here