Birmingham homeless people to get glasses and eye care from vision charity.

A charity that provides eye tests and glasses to homeless people in Birmingham can support an extra 25 vulnerable people after receiving a grant for £1,000.

Homeless people suffer a higher level of eye problems than the general population yet many don’t get the eye care they need.

Vision Care for Homeless People (VCHP), is a charity that provides sight tests and glasses to homeless and vulnerable people in a friendly environment where they feel safe and welcome.

The charity, based at SIFA Fireside in Digbeth, received the £1,000 grant from the Birmingham-based Wisdom Factory CIC, a social enterprise that offers training and other services for numerous local and global clients plus national research projects.

At least 5% of all income to The Wisdom Factory CIC is set aside for a grant fund that distributes amounts between £250 and £1,000 for community groups, charities and social enterprises to use on projects that will benefit communities living in Birmingham.

Homeless people need glasses to find accommodation, gain employment or undertake everyday activities.

They find high street opticians difficult to access, are prone to losing or breaking their glasses, and often miss out on having their glasses paid for by the NHS, so cannot afford them.

In England each year, there is a need for 20,000 homeless people to have their eyes tested. VCHP currently meets 9% of that need, but aims to be reaching 40% in five years.

VCHP has eye clinics in London, Brighton, Manchester, Exeter and in Birmingham. The clinic in Birmingham is based at SIFA Fireside in Digbeth, a hub for homeless people, providing breakfast and lunch every weekday.

The clinic is open every Monday from 9am to 1pm (except for Bank holidays), and provides free eye tests and glasses, referring clients for further medical care for conditions such as glaucoma when needed.

Over the last year, the clinic treated 157 patients. Each consultation can take 45 minutes as clients can have complex mental and physical health needs.

David Brown, General Manager of Vision Care for Homeless People, said: “For someone who is homeless, having an eye test and glasses can be a very important step in helping them get back on their feet again.

“Thanks to the Wisdom Factory we will be able to provide that service for 25 people who are homeless in Birmingham.”

VCHP patient Brian Shepherd said: “I like to spend time in the local library reading and so my glasses mean a lot to me. Thank you.”

For more information about VCHP visit http://www.visioncarecharity.org/

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