Louis Stone celebrates ‘coming together’ of optometry professionals

A campaign launched by the company is sharing the experiences and stories of optometry students and professionals through coronavirus (COVID-19)

student workspace
Rian Love
Louis Stone Optical has shared the stories of students and optometrists from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic aiming to present a ‘coming together’ of the profession.

The campaign draws together experiences shared by the company’s social media followers, with the stories then presented online.

Clare Gaba, head of marketing and communications for Louis Stone, explained that the campaign came about as the company realised that, when sharing customer photos and tagging the customer on social media, followers were often clicking through to look at that profile.

Ms Gaba commented: “Our followers are very interested in learning about other people in the same profession and so the idea of mixing together this curiosity about other students or professionals, coupled with the feeling that students and professionals should all know that they are not alone if they are having a tough time and that we are ‘all in this together,’ seemed like a beautiful concept.”

The company has been “overwhelmed” by entries, Ms Gaba added. Each week the company selects a winning entry to share on social media and to receive Louis Stone merchandise.

With England now set to enter a period of further restrictions, due to last until December, Ms Gaba told OT: “I think that hearing these stories is all the more important at such a point in the fight against coronavirus with a second lockdown.”

With optometrists on social media seeming keen to connect and hear the experiences of others, Ms Gaba added, “Perhaps some of our followers will reach out to the featured individuals as a way of sharing comfort and community.”

Stories shared through the campaign have ranged from learning new hobbies, developing new skills or adopting new roles, to providing essential eye care.

Rian Love, a first-year optometry student at Technological University Dublin and dispensing optician, reflected on adapting to distance learning (his working from home set-up is pictured above). He said: “I am well versed in the advantages and disadvantages of distance learning, however it is a tough ask. I am also a mature student and have two little girls under three at home. We are only on campus for one day per week, with a mix of pre-recorded and live lectures online.

“I’m lucky to have been able to take a room at home and set up a desk to study at,” Mr Love noted, adding: “Not every student will have that, which will be hard for them.”

Luke Douglas, a dispensing optician, described taking on a new role in an Iceland store earlier this year after being furloughed.

Luke Douglas
Luke Douglas, a dispensing optician, shared his experiences of taking on a new role while furloughed

“I turned up to my first shift and my pre-conceived ideas about working in a supermarket were immediately shattered as it is so much more of a physical job than I had first anticipated,” Mr Douglas explained.

With the role involving packing shopping ready for delivery and stacking shelves, Mr Douglas said: “I ended up working there for two months working 1am-8am. I am really glad I found something to do and continued to help others during a time of need for so many and will count it as an experience to look back on.”

Optometry student and AOP student rep, Indy Ghuman, shared a photo collage of his experiences of the past year – from picking up new hobbies, to practising his skills on his family, while Thaksha Sritharan, a third year student at City, University of London, shared a video explaining how her experiences as a student had changed due to the pandemic.

More experiences shared by optometry professionals and trainees can be found on the company’s social media pages.

Louis Stone are asking optometrists who would like to share their stories to get in touch with their experiences via email.