Cash boost from City Bridge Trust to expand VCHP London services

The City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust, has given £37,100 to Vision Care for Homeless People, a charity that supports thousands of homeless people in London every year with eye care.

The funding will go towards employing additional staff to further develop its services across London and introduce mobile clinics to reach more vulnerable people across the capital.

Vision Care for Homeless People aims to ensure impoverished homeless people in the capital receive the eyecare they need- this includes eye tests and glasses at no cost.

The charity has three clinics across London at Spitalfields, Marylebone and Sherpherd’s Bush. Each clinic is run by a team of volunteers including an optometrist, dispensing optician and clinic assistants.

Recently, in the course of a week the charity saw a record of 353 patients.

Homeless people need glasses in order to find accommodation, obtain or retain employment, to help them stay safe and enjoy every day activities- it is key to them changing their lives.

Vision Care for Homeless People says homeless people are particularly disadvantaged when it comes to obtaining eye care with more than half being ineligible for free eye tests and glasses on the NHS.

Alison Gowman, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust committee, said:
“This is a really special charity providing a service that is completely life changing. For someone who is homeless to move forward with their life they need the tools to do it and this charity is providing this vital resource.

“Thousands of people are already being helped through this service but there are still more vulnerable individuals who are currently not being reached that would really benefit from this service and our grant should help towards changing this.

“City Bridge Trust is committed to tackling disadvantage across the capital and making London a fairer and better place to live.”

David Brown, Manager at Vision Care for Homelessness, added:

“Volunteers are vital to the service we provide. We have optometrists giving their time to perform eye tests, volunteer clinic assistants ensuring the clinics run smoothly and branch lead teams – all playing their part. Over the course of a year, over 140 volunteers provide the eye care service for which homeless people are so grateful.

“Thanks to the City Bridge grant we will be able to employ a volunteer manager, to support our existing volunteers and also develop our volunteer teams, particularly as we are expanding our branch network to new cities.

“More homeless people will get access to the eye care they need. We make a very significant difference to peoples’ lives with a small income, so the donation will go a very long way.”

City Bridge Trust is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of £20 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital. The Trust has awarded around 7,500 grants totalling over £360 million since it first began in 1995. It helps achieve the Corporation’s aim of changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.

Anonymous case study from Manager David:
I recently met a homeless gentleman in our Shepherd’s Bush clinic. He had had his eyes tested by us the week before and had come to collect his glasses. His poor eyesight was making it difficult to get a job. He’d been trying, but when he was given something to read at an interview he couldn’t see it properly and got flustered. He’d also stopped using the internet to look for work because it hurt his eyes. He was delighted to receive his new glasses and eagerly went off to his next appointment at the Job Centre. We heard from him again a few months later. He had got himself a job and is currently working full time as a kitchen porter in Chiswick.

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