“Vision Care for Homeless People” is a charity set-up to provide eye care services to homeless and other vulnerable people in an accessible and friendly environment in which they feel safe, welcome and comfortable.
The majority of homeless and vulnerable people are not in receipt of financial benefits, so are not eligible for an NHS eye examination and voucher towards their spectacles. For the few that are, not many practices will make spectacles totally free of charge, and even a small charge may be unmanageable. We provide a fully comprehensive high quality service totally free of charge even to the remaining majority of homeless people who do not receive benefits.
We aim to preserve, protect and promote the ocular health of homeless and vulnerable people in the UK who are unwilling or unable to access mainstream services available through the NHS. We include screening of ocular health and the provision of spectacles, that meets the immediate visual needs of our beneficiaries.
VCHP first started a clinic at Crisis Skylight in London and obtained charity status in February 2007. Still working closely with Crisis, we have expanded to six clinics – three in London, and one each in Birmingham, Manchester and Brighton. We have carried out over 7,000 eye examinations and dispensed thousands of pairs of glasses. We have ambitions to expand to all major UK cities.
We pride ourselves on being a very lean charity with most of the spectacles, lenses, glazing and diagnostic technology donated by the optical industry. Funding from the NHS comes in the form of payments for some eye examinations and prescribing, but due to the lifestyle of many of our users, they may not qualify for this state help.
Many of our optometrists, dispensing opticians and assistants volunteer their time. Our volunteer trustees are extremely dedicated and engaged with the work of the charity.
We engage with optometry students, giving them opportunities to experience our work, work as Ambassadors for the charity and organise fundraising events.