Orchard Centre

Optical staff volunteer their time and skills to support people experiencing homelessness

Three members of the team from Specsavers Didcot spent their day off giving free eye tests and advice to homeless people at a special clinic.

Store directors Maria Garcia and Rukhsana Bi, alongside optical assistant Hannah Webb-Smith, volunteered at the Crisis at Christmas clinic in Oxford, on Thursday 29 December.

This was one of five eye care clinics Specsavers are running at Crisis’ centres as part of a partnership between the opticians and Crisis to help people experiencing homelessness access free eye care.

The trio spent the day carrying out eye tests for those in need who were able to drop in to get expert help from a wide range of professional services.

‘It was great to be part of this initiative and to be able to give back in this way to those who need us,’ comments Maria.

‘As well as carrying out the eye examinations we also provided glasses for those who required it, covering the cost of single vision or bifocal lenses. It really was a heart-warming experience and we were so glad to be involved.’

Specsavers has become the first ever corporate sponsor of the Crisis at Christmas campaign. Specsavers colleagues across the UK will help Crisis expand the range of health and wellbeing services it already provides in its Skylight centres across Great Britain. Over the next year, Crisis and Specsavers will work together to further expand eye care services for people experiencing homelessness across the country.

Research has revealed that more than half of people experiencing homelessness have unresolved issues with their vision, with a lack of permanent address often being the barrier to accessing such healthcare.

Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, says: ‘Experiencing homelessness has an extremely negative impact on people’s health. But sadly, we regularly see many people suffering and finding it difficult to access health services because they fear stigma or are not easily able to register due to not having permanent addresses. So, we’re delighted to partner with Specsavers, which will allow people we help to receive quality eye care in our Christmas centres.

‘With rising costs continuing to impact people’s ability to pay bills and rent, we fear that the numbers of people facing homelessness will grow over the difficult months ahead. This is why the need for our Christmas and year-round services has never been more important and why we need as many people as possible to stand with us. The valued support from Specsavers and its staff will help us continue to help people who desperately need it this Christmas and beyond.’

Crisis works with thousands of people experiencing homelessness, providing education, training and support with housing, employment and health. Through its frontline services across Britain, the charity helps people find a path out of homelessness for good. 

More than 227,000 people across Britain are currently experiencing the worst forms of homelessness, including sleeping on the streets and on public transport or in insecure and temporary accommodation like hostels and B&Bs. The cost-of-living crisis will see this alarming figure increase further, with many more put at real risk of homelessness as financial pressures intensify.

Specsavers is also supporting the Big Issue Group as part of a broader campaign to break down the barriers that people experiencing poverty and homelessness face in receiving eyecare, as for many, a lack of permanent address prevents them from accessing NHS services. 

As part of the Crisis at Christmas appeal customers have the option to donate via Specsavers’ Just Giving page links placed in stores. All fundraising goes directly to Crisis.


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Optical staff volunteer their time and skills to support people experiencing homelessness