Free eye care for homeless people across Wiltshire

By Barrie Hudson - 8 October 2021

CharityBusiness
  • From left: Haine & Smith business change and improvement manager Tom Adams,  Haine & Smith clinical director Thom Pears, Haine & Smith clinical lead optometrist Anna Lewin and Lisa Thomas, health and welfare co-ordinator at Alabaré

    From left: Haine & Smith business change and improvement manager Tom Adams, Haine & Smith clinical director Thom Pears, Haine & Smith clinical lead optometrist Anna Lewin and Lisa Thomas, health and welfare co-ordinator at Alabaré

A new partnership has been created to provide homeless people with free eye care and spectacles.

  • Anna Lewin, clinical lead optometrist at Haine & Smith, performing an eye examination on Alabaré client Terry

    Anna Lewin, clinical lead optometrist at Haine & Smith, performing an eye examination on Alabaré client Terry

Local opticians Haine & Smith and regional charity Alabaré have joined forces.

Alabaré is a charity supporting vulnerable, homeless and marginalised people, providing accommodation and helping them gain the skills, confidence and opportunities to live a fulfilled life. 

Having named Alabaré as its charity of the year, Haine & Smith is supporting its work with homeless and vulnerable people across the county, by offering free eye examinations to all of its residents.

The plan is to create ‘pop-up’ centres in different Alabaré locations, to carry out sight tests and then provide residents with free glasses if needed, and the pilot for the campaign was held at Unity House in Chippenham.

Anna Lewin, clinical lead optometrist at Haine & Smith, said: “As this was our first location, we were a little unsure how many patients would come to see us, but it’s been really well received, and we have tested six people. 

"My first patient was really apprehensive as she thought she was going blind, but we’ve managed to reassure her that she just needs some glasses to help with watching the TV. It seems such a small thing to a lot of us, but actually I think it’s going to make a big difference to her life."

If the eye examination shows glasses are required, the patient can choose from the frames available and Haine & Smith will return later to fit the glasses to the new owner. The frames taken to Unity House were a mixture of new pairs donated by Wolf Eyewear and recycled pairs from Haine & Smith patients.

Lisa Thomas, health and welfare co-ordinator at Alabaré, was delighted by the success of the first event.

She said: "We’re so happy with how the day went and this new partnership will certainly help enhance our residents' wellbeing. Not only does it give them the much-needed eye care they’re missing, it will also help them tremendously with their confidence. 

"As word gets round the homes, we’re expecting more and more residents to come for a test, and hopefully, in the future, this could also be opened up to those living on the streets, not just in sheltered accommodation.”

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