The mental and physical problems inflicted on an individual after they lose their home are countless. Isolation, hunger and a sharp decline in health top the list of misery, with specialist medical conditions sending particularly unlucky people further along the skid through society’s cracks.
One charity is fighting back, however, with a clear vision for helping get people back on their own two feet. Vision Care for Homeless People, with clinics in Spitalfields, Marylebone and Shepherd’s Bush is helping the most at-risk of London’s vulnerable population – those with sight problems.
The charity provides free eye tests, care and glasses for the homeless, and have helped thousands over the years. Without such support schemes, impoverished people are simply unable to obtain and retain employment, fuelling a vicious cycle.
Recently, in the course of just one week, Vision Care saw a record 353 patients. So the 140 or so volunteers who make up the Vision Care team were probably rubbing their eyes in disbelief this week when it was announced they were to receive a major injection of funds from the Corporation.
Acting through its charitable arm, City Bridge Trust, the authority has pledged £37,100 to the charity. Funding will go towards employing new staff to boost services, including introducing mobile clinics to reach more vulnerable people across the Capital.
Vision Care says people living on the streets are particularly disadvantaged when it comes to obtaining eye care, with more than half being ineligible for free eye tests and glasses on the NHS.
David Brown, Vision Care manager, believes the new wave of cash support will go a long way to expanding the charity’s operations. “Thanks to the City Bridge Trust grant we will be able to employ a volunteer manager to support our existing volunteers and also develop our volunteer teams,” he said.
“More homeless people will get access to the eye care they need. We make a very significant difference to peoples’ lives with a small income, so the donation will go a very long way.”
City Bridge Trust is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making donations of £20million a year to tackle disadvantage across the Capital. Alison Gowman, chairman of the City Bridge Trust committee, described Vision Care as a “special charity” that is changing lives.
“For someone who is homeless to move forward with their life they need the tools to do it – and this charity is providing this vital resource.
“Thousands of people are already being helped through this service, but there are more vulnerable individuals who are currently not being reached that would really benefit from this service. Our grant will help to change this.”