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Opchat Magazine Charity PageCharity News, July to September 2017



Volunteers needed by homeless charity.
Leeds Opening for New Homeless Clinic.
WCSM Education Trust Bursary Winners complete their first year of training.

Volunteers needed by homeless charity.  

July 2017

Vision Care for Homeless People is looking for new trustees – particularly anyone with a keen interest in IT or fundraising.

A very rewarding charity to be involved with, the trustees meet several times a year in London to plan the smooth running of services at the existing clinics in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton, Exeter and soon to be Leeds.

“We have set ourselves an ambitious target of opening a number of new clinics within the next 12 months and are looking for trustees with drive and commitment to help us to achieve this in some of the most deprived centres in the UK,” said Elaine Styles, Chair of VCHP.

In addition to trustees, the eleven year old charity which provides a comprehensive eye examination service and specs, is looking for volunteer optometrists to run the Brighton clinic on Thursdays and the Birmingham clinic on Mondays.

Student ambassadors are sought to raise the profile of the charity amongst young optometrists, particularly with fundraising initiatives.

Leeds Opening for New Homeless Clinic.

July 2017

Homeless People in Leeds are about to benefit from a new eyecare service, dedicated to their needs, which is widely supported by the local community.

VCFHThe City centre’s St George’s Crypt, in Great George Street, has provided space for the clinic, which will be officially opened on Monday 31st July at 2.30pm.

Vision Care for Homeless People Leeds is the eighth clinic to be opened by the UK registered charity, and is designed to eradicate the totally disempowering problem of poor vision for the homeless in our community.

Yorkshire optometrist, Paul Appleson, is amongst the fundraisers who has made the new venture for the city happen. Paul, who has his own practice in Wetherby, recently ran the Leeds half marathon to raise funds for the clinic.


ApplesonAs he explained “A group of us want to do something to help the local homeless community, and when the opportunity came up to use our professional skills it certainly solved the dilemma of how to help. It feels like a very positive thing to be involved with. Leeds is a great city, but it also has some of the problems of a great city too,” he said.

A tremendous team of supporters includes volunteer optometrists and dispensing opticians to run the clinic – others are making donations: spectacles from Specsavers; glazing and lenses by Leeds lab Rawdon Optical; cases and cloths from Optoplast; eye medications from Three Sixty; and funding from the Charles and Elsie Sykes Foundation.

The comprehensive suite of eye examination equipment has been provided by leading names in UK optics.

Caroline Clarke, Chair of the Leeds VCHP Team, added “The optical community has come together to provide an excellent service. After a year of careful planning and fundraising the clinic will be open from 10.30 to 3pm on Mondays and we aim to make a real difference to the lives of people who need it the most.”

WCSM Education Trust Bursary Winners complete their first year of training.

July 2017

Chris HullThe academic year has now finished and the WCSM Education Trust has been very pleased to note the progress of its first tranche of bursary winners.

From more than 240 applications received on launch of the scheme in July 2016, 25 award winners were selected to receive a bursary of £1,000. Their courses ranged from block release dispensing diplomas through to degrees in orthoptics and optometry, covering 10 different UK institutions.

On the basis of progress reports submitted to the Trustees in April 2017, two students, Karla Mackenzie and Chioma Ezenwoye, were invited to attend a special lunch at Apothecaries’ Hall in June to meet leading members of optical professions and find out more about the different career paths taken by Liverymen of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers.

Chioma, who is studying for a BMedSci (Honours) degree in Orthoptics at Sheffield University, said, “It was such an honour to be able to meet and chat to many members and guests, including the President of the British and Irish Orthoptic Society, the professional body which represents orthoptists. The bursary has helped to relieve a lot of the burden of accommodation costs both at the University and while I am out on work placements. I really appreciate the support WCSM is giving me as a future employee in the optical sector.”

Karla has used her bursary to help with travel costs from her home in the North of Scotland to ABDO College in Kent to pursue her aim of becoming a Dispensing Optician. She said “Being awarded the bursary has opened so many doors for me. I have just recently celebrated fifteen years in practice and I am eager to learn and do even more. Over the next five years I would like to qualify as a Dispensing Optician and then I would really like to specialise in low vision. Living in the remote Highlands, I see the problems faced by elderly patients and I really aspire to be able to help patients like these live safer lives. I strive to improve in practice every day and I am so grateful for the help this bursary has given me.”

The next WCSM Education Trust Bursary Scheme will be open to applications from late August 2017. Further details will appear on the WCSM website:

Photo: Karla Mackenzie (left) and Chioma Ezenwoye (right) with Professor Chris Hull, Liveryman and Chair of the WCSM Education Trust.


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