Amanda Fethney, dispensing optician at Specsavers Gorseinon and Matthew Harvey, director at Specsavers Llanelli, were on hand to provide support for a number of people experiencing homelessness, many 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 home 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 problems1 yet can face major barriers receiving eye care, whether those be financial, residential or not being eligible for NHS support.
Amanda Fethney said: ‘I think that everybody should be able to access healthcare and it’s really important that it is available in an environment they are comfortable in. If people are not able to or don’t feel comfortable, it’s important that we come to them so they can access it as it could be life changing. For me, I would just like it to be accessible to everybody, regardless of what their home status is.’
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.
Matt Downie, Crisis chief executive, said: “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.”
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 have access to 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.
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