Johnson & Johnson Vision’s STEP team raises over £9300 for SeeAbility

£4692 raised via the Success Through Education Programme in October was matched by the company

Annabel Wall
Over £9300 has been raised for SeeAbility after Success Through Education Programme (STEP) team members at Johnson and Johnson Vision (JJV) took part in a series of fundraising events in October.

As part of the group’s STEP up for SeeAbility campaign, STEP raised funds for the national learning disability charity through sponsored 5ks, half marathons, a kilomathon, an Ironman Triathlon, and a marathon bike ride. The aim was to see how far those taking part could ‘virtually’ travel, allowing participants to choose their own personal challenge.

Those taking part included STEP faculty members, STEP mentors, and Mahan Singh - a pre-reg optometrist currently registered on the programme.

Mahan Singh
Pre-reg optometrist Mahan Singh taking part in the STEP up for SeeAbility campaign

The campaign ran from 1 October to 24 October. The £4692.02 raised by the 10 participating STEP members was then matched by JJV, taking the total to £9392.02.

SeeAbility provides specialist support, accommodation, and eye care help for people with learning disabilities, autism and sight loss. In 2019 the charity performed 3500 eye examinations and dispensed over 1700 pairs of spectacles.

Saujan Pandhak, strategic partnerships officer at SeeAbility, said: “STEP Up for SeeAbility was created in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Many of the charity’s events were cancelled or postponed, and the loss of funds raised through those events has a huge impact on our ability to deliver our life-changing work.

“This virtual challenge enabled us to engage supporters during lockdown and raise the vital funds we need to support our person-centred programmes, including eye care.

He added: “The money raised by JJV colleagues through STEP up for SeeAbility will enable us to continue to provide physiotherapy, vision rehabilitation support, speech and language therapy, personal behaviour support and eye care support for people with learning disabilities, autism and sight loss.”

It is the second charity event STEP has taken part in. In October 2019, members of the group raised £3045 for Fight for Sight.

Kiran Bola, who ran 5k for five days straight as part of the challenge

JJV’s STEP programme was set up in 2015 to support the training of future eye care practitioners. It takes the form of a four-year blended learning programme within optometry undergraduate courses and beyond. To date over 3000 optometry students have passed through the programme, which is made up of students, pre-reg optometrists and those who are newly qualified.

Sheetal Patel, JJV’s professional education & development manager, UK/Ireland, said: “Each year, JJV supports a charity of its choice and for 2020 it seemed like a great opportunity to support a relatively small charity that provides much needed support to those that need it within the community.

“The work SeeAbility does is invaluable, and to carry on their fantastic work they need the public’s support. 2020 has been a particularly hard time for charities as their usual methods of gaining funding have been affected considerably during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why this year we felt particularly inspired to support them in whatever way we could.”

Ms Patel added: “We are already looking forward to our next charity event, in 2021. We hope that many more of our current and past Steppers engage with this initiative, as it has such relevance to eye care professionals.”

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