A milestone was reached this week as Vision Care for Homeless People clocked up ten years of providing eye care and glasses for the dispossessed. Some 7,000 people in the UK have been helped to better vision during this time.
Optical Confederation members who support the charity, and a host of volunteers, joined the celebrations at the Crisis Skylight Centre in Whitechapel – where the very first clinic was held in 2003.
Harinder Paul, the optometrist charity founder and now chief executive, reflected on how VCHP has grown to five well established centres – with three in London, others in Birmingham and Brighton – and with a sixth to open in Manchester in 2014.
Barry Simons, Founder Trustee, spoke of the tremendous commitment by the volunteers during the ten year period-
“There are so many young people involved in the charity and their passion and commitment is truly impressive. A lot of our young supporters have excellent values and commitment to help those less fortunate than ourselves. It is these volunteers who have put the charity where it is today.”
Barry, who has an extensive knowledge of supporting homelessness charities, stressed the importance of the work – “in London we have seen rough sleepers increase by 16% in the last year alone”.
Special praise was made for the FMO members and optical suppliers who so generously provide the testing room equipment for each of the centres, and to the labs and lens companies whose generosity ensures that these overheads are covered for each of the centres.
Picture show left to right:
Harinder Paul, Chief Executive; Elaine Styles, Chair of Charity; Barry Simons, Trustee; Janice English, Trustee; David Hewlett Optical Confederation; Harjit Sandhu, Trustee