Vision Care for Homeless People (VCHP) has launched the Homeless Eye Health Alliance, a new initiative designed to improve access to eye health for those in need.
The charity said that it is aiming to raise access to eye care to 40% of homeless people in England by 2020. This is an increase from the 9% of homeless people currently believed to be receiving the charity’s services.
VCHP is working with the Thomas Pocklington Trust, Pathway Healthcare for Homeless People and the Optical Confederation to achieve its target.
The group is aiming to persuade the Government to remove the barriers that homeless people face in receiving NHS eye care.
Homeless people have a high level of uncorrected refractive error and a high level of eye health problems, according to VCHP.
Chair of the charity, Elaine Styles, said: “Sadly, there is a growing problem with homelessness in the UK. We are in a strong position to do something about the visual needs of this vulnerable group of people.”
Ms Styles explained to OT that VCHP will be raising the issue through lobbying all healthcare pathways and those associated with homelessness care.
The alliance wants to make simple amendments to the General Ophthalmic Services Contact Regulations, and create pathways into and out of secondary care to improve eye disease outcomes.
“We are hoping to increase access to our services by mobile clinics and by opening more regional centres in 2018. A mobile bus would be the dream, so any businesses interested in sponsoring such a venture would be warmly welcomed,” she added.
VCHP patron and actor, Ben Miles, welcomed volunteers, trustees and supporters to the launch event, which was held at London’s Lansdowne Club on 23 November.
Dinner at the event was supported by Specsavers co-founder, Dame Mary Perkins. Attendees raised over £4000 during the evening.
The alliance is also calling for supporters, with partnership free of charge. For more information, visit the alliance’s website.
Image credit: VCHP