How I serve my community

Bringing people together

OT  spoke to optometrist Joy Hynes at Hynes Optometrists, about how the practice unites the community

Linda and Joy standing side by side in their practice in West London.

As an independent practice, can you share what you’ve done to help serve your community?

At Hynes Optometrists we used to put up a small marquee outside the practice and had simple activities for the children as they passed by – hook a duck, put the tail on the donkey, limbo dancing and so on.

I used to also organise a children’s entertainer to walk along the avenue and entertain the children with large bubbles, balloon art and card tricks and we always encouraged everyone to make a small donation for charity.

We also always had a raffle with great prizes donated by the traders and whenever possible got one of the councillors or our local Mayor to draw the prizes. Other traders gave away food for a donation, arranged treasure hunts where the children had to find the clues in the different shops and drawing and painting tables for the children.

However, since 2020 we have not held any events like this, but we have found new ways to support and fundraise for charity.

During lockdown I discovered my passion for painting, and I have been selling my paintings and greeting cards in the practice since 2020, with all the proceeds going towards charity. We also recently held our first coffee morning since 2020.

Street event outside Hynes Optometrists with bunting and balloons decorating the practice. A woman and two children are passing by, one child is wearing a balloon hat and the other is in a push chair. In the centre a person dressed as a clown creating large bubbles with two sticks. Behind the clown two women are sitting at either end of a table. On the bottom right a little girl with her face painted and a person playing a guitar.
Community fundraiser event outside Hynes Optometrists, taken in 2015

Why is it important to you to support your patients and what impact do you think it has on the wider local community?

We are a community practice and our patients want to support our efforts – this makes them feel involved, makes them feel good and in return they appreciate how much we value their support however small or big. Together we are doing a great job of thinking of other people and our donations are making a difference.

Are there any other charitable events you are a part of and would like share?

Two hands holding a basket of hand painted greeting cards. The first card visible is a painting of a robin.
Joy paints all these greeting cards and sells them in her practice with all the proceeds going towards charity
We used to have regular coffee mornings, but this stopped due to COVID-19. So, this year we had our first Comic Relief Coffee Morning.

During the coffee morning we offered tea and coffee, and homemade cakes for a small donation of £5. It was a great event and we raised £250.

I also used this opportunity to sell my watercolour painted greeting cards and spark some interest in my watercolour paintings with all proceeds going to the charity.

Do you have a standout moment from any of the events you’ve coordinated?

One event that sticks out clearly in my mind is a patient who was recommended to me whilst he was on annual leave from his work in Ghana. He told me that he had spent most of his time in Ghana working with local people adapting bicycles for disabled people.

I arranged a coffee morning and in the invite, I wrote about this man's story and how passionate I was to raise some money for him. To my absolute surprise, a simple two-hour coffee morning raised £500. Imagine the utter surprise when this donation was received in Ghana? To this day, when this man comes to England, he comes into the practice to say hello.

During your career are there any other projects that you’re proud to say you were a part of?

Four framed paintings hanging on a wall in the practice. The first is a landscape painting and the second and third are flowers. The fourth is not visible as it’s too far away.
Selection of Joy’s artwork on display in practice
Last year, Nikon Lenswear UK commissioned me to paint their Christmas card. In exchange I asked them to make a donation to the charity, Guide Dogs, which they were delighted to do.

On another occasion my dog Moss and myself walked 10k for Cancer Research and with the support of my patients I raised £2500. A couple of years later, four staff members did a walk for Alzheimer’s Society and collectively we raised £4000.

I imagine that over the years we have raised in excess of £10,000 just doing these small things.

What goals or aspirations do you have for future fundraising opportunities?

For the community street event, it all sounds simple and easy when written on paper, but getting the traders interested and encouraging them to participate was the biggest hurdle. After doing this for the best part of 15 years I have stepped away. I cannot say if there will be any more events on the avenue.

However, we do plan to have more regular coffee mornings, not only to raise money but to give people who usually have never met before an opportunity to sit down and chat in a relaxed and happy environment. And I will continue to sell my cards and paintings – adding all donations to our ever-growing pot.