Scotland’s first eye care clinic for homeless people opens

Scotland's first eye care clinic for homeless people opens

(from left) Maria McAllister, clinical performance lead at Specsavers; Mark Kennedy, director of Crisis Skylight Edinburgh; Elaine Styles, chair of VCHP and Jennifer Stephenson, Scottish divisional chair of Specsavers

A new free eye care clinic for people experiencing homelessness opened this week at Crisis Skylight Centre in Edinburgh, the first such clinic outside of England.

The clinic, run by eye health charity Vision Care for Homeless People (VCHP), will operate from the new Wellness Floor at the Skylight in Canongate. The Wellness Floor has been funded by Specsavers and, alongside the bespoke eye clinic, includes additional rooms, which will enable Crisis to broaden the health services it provides to members.

A special event to mark the occasion was attended by more than 60 attendees from Crisis, VCHP and Specsavers, as well as third sector professionals, with all guests receiving a tour of the new facilities whilst being able to speak to experts on the invaluable support being offered at the Centre.

The Edinburgh Crisis Skylight opened its doors last year but was unable to fund these additional facilities until Specsavers stepped in to finance the new health and wellness suites.

Specsavers Scottish divisional chair, Jenny Stephenson, said: “We are delighted to help VCHP open its very first clinic in Scotland. Our founding purpose is to improve eye care for all, but for those experiencing homelessness it can sometimes be difficult to get access to the eye health care they need. The opening of the Wellness Floor celebrates an impactful collaboration with Crisis and VCHP with the ultimate ambition of making care equitable and accessible for all, regardless of their circumstances.”

Scotland's first eye care clinic for homeless people opens

VCHP founder and chair of trustees Elaine Styles, spoke on behalf of her team when she said how thrilled they were with the new clinical rooms, which includes a separate dispense area.

Ms Styles added: “This new clinic will be our tenth in total and all are staffed and run by volunteers, who provide professional ophthalmic services to people experiencing homelessness. It’s a true testament to what our long-term partnership with Crisis and Specsavers is achieving.”

Mark Kennedy, director of the Crisis Skylight in Edinburgh, said: “Crisis has been running frontline services for people experiencing homelessness in Scotland for more than a decade but this new clinic will allow us to do even more for the people we work with.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Specsavers and VCHP for their support. Having the clinic available for our members is invaluable in helping people to improve their eye health and, ultimately, to help them on their journey out of homelessness.”

VCHP, Crisis and Specsavers are working with wider optical industry stakeholders and charities to call for changes in government policies that will enable people experiencing homelessness to access the eye care they need.

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