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Opchat Magazine Charity PageCharity News, July to September 2017



Essilor Team Run the Bristol Half Marathon.
Lansdowne club to host Visioncare for Homeless People dinner.
RNIB Scotland makes donation on World Literacy Day.
Voyage to Mount Kilimanjaro: presents fundraising opportunity for the Spectacle Makers' Charity
Shamir shares their fundraising plans for Breast Cancer.
WCSM Education Trust Bursary Scheme is now open for applicants to the 2017 scheme.
New research confirms Vision Impairment affects 20% of the World's population.
Leeds Rhinos star opens homeless clinic
Volunteers needed by homeless charity.
Leeds Opening for New Homeless Clinic.
WCSM Education Trust Bursary Winners complete their first year of training.

Essilor Team Run the Bristol Half Marathon.

September 2017

Essilor Runners

Thousands of runners took to the Streets on Sunday 15th September for the Bristol Half Marathon and, among them was a Team from Essilor raising money for optical charity Vision Aid Overseas.

Vision Aid overseas is one of Essilor’s chosen charities and the Half Marathon was one of many staff fund raising events that take place throughout the year.

The team consisted of 17 individuals from various departments at the Thornbury site.

Mike Kirkley commented “Essilor’s mission is improving lives by improving sight and the company has been a supporter of Vision Aid Overseas for many years. I’m delighted the team collectively raised over £600 to further help the charity which demonstrates our commitment to our mission.”

Lansdowne club to host Visioncare for Homeless People dinner.

September 2017

LansdownePrestigious Mayfair venue, The Lansdowne Club, once the home of Mr Selfridge, is to host a dinner for Vision Care for Homeless People on Thursday 23 November.

The fundraising dinner – which is expected to reach out to new supporters – enables guests to enjoy entertainment in some of the most beautiful rooms of the London club. In a rare opportunity, guests will be free to enjoy the Robert Adam ballroom and beautiful long gallery.

With tickets priced at £100, the dinner is set to raise funds for the 14 year old charity’s important work in providing eye examinations and glasses for the dispossessed.

With centres in London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Brighton and Exeter, there are plans in 2018 to extend the clinics to other cities where there is a significant need.

Elaine Styles, Chair of the charity, explained, “Sadly there is a growing problem with homelessness in the UK and we are in a strong position to do something about the visual needs of this vulnerable group of people. We are always looking for volunteers and supporters but we feel this dinner – potentially the first of many – is a new way to raise awareness with potential patrons. I do hope we will attract a new group of supporters to this very worthwhile and attractive event.”

Those wishing to attend should email

RNIB Scotland makes donation on World Literacy Day.

September 2017

RNIB Scotland

Hundreds of books in braille and giant-print are being donated to a school for blind and partially sighted children in Jamaica to mark World Literacy Day today [September 8th].

The books have been sent by sight loss charity RNIB to the British Council office in Kingston for distribution to the Salvation Army School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in the island’s capital.

The consignment, comprising 55 boxes, includes titles by such favourite children’s authors as JK Rowling and David Walliams.

The school, which will celebrate its 90th anniversary this November, is the only one of its kind in Jamaica. It currently has 137 students.

The school’s principal, Iyeke Erharuyi, said: “There is a very limited access to books in alternate formats for the low vision and totally blind child in Jamaica, so we are very grateful for initiatives such as this.

“Granting a child with visual impairment the enabling environment means they can break that glass ceiling. We would like to thank the British Council, RNIB and Flag Up Scotland Jamaica for this very timely donation, as we will be doing a drive to retro-fit the school library as part of our 90th Anniversary.”

The school’s need for accessible children’s books was first highlighted by Glasgow city councillor Graham Campbell, who has worked with the British Council in Jamaica. He referred them to RNIB’s Diversity in Sight initiative in Scotland.

Its manager, Gozie Joe Adigwe, said: “RNIB often gets asked by overseas organisations for donations and we do our best to help everyone who does. This case turned out to be perfect timing as we were looking to donate some of our surplus stock of braille and giant-print books.

“We hope this will help ensure that children in other countries aren’t excluded from the world of literature – a world that can do so much to help shape the person we become. I couldn’t imagine being deprived of my favourite stories from childhood. No child should be denied the chance to enjoy the same stories that stretch the imagination and sense of wonder as their sighted peers.”

RNIB maintains the largest collection of books for adults and children in Europe with a library of over 21,000 titles in audio, braille and giant-print, lent free of charge to people in the UK with sight loss.

Olayinka Jacobs-Bonnick, British Council country director, said: “RNIB Scotland responded immediately to our request for books in braille and giant print, which are in short supply in Jamaica.

“We are very excited to be able to donate them to the Salvation Army School for the Blind and Visually Impaired as a part of our World Literacy Day celebrations, and to underscore the fact that blind and visually impaired persons do actually read. Equality, diversity and inclusion is a key area of the work for the British Council worldwide.”

Voyage to Mount Kilimanjaro: presents fundraising opportunity for the Spectacle Makers' Charity

September 2017

Liveryman Ian Wills and Julie Zberowski are on their way to Mount Kilimanjaro! Rising from the savannah of East Africa to the staggering height of 5895m, not only is Kilimanjaro the highest mountain in Africa but it is also the tallest free-standing mountain on earth and provides some of the best views an eye health professional could hope to see!

Ian and Julie invite any Freeman or Liveryman who would like to encourage their efforts to sponsor them, with all proceeds going to the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers' Charity (registered number 1072172).

You can do this through the Charity's Virgin Money Giving site: here

Donations can attract Gift Aid so if you are a taxpayer but have not yet completed a Gift Aid form, please contact the Clerk on 020 7236 2932 and she can send the form to you. Every little helps!

If you want to make a donation directly to the Spectacle Makers please email the clerk for banking details. (

Thank you to all supporters and good luck, Ian and Julie! A report on their trip will appear in the next edition of "From the Master and Wardens" provided to all liverymen.

Shamir shares their fundraising plans for Breast Cancer.

August 2017

Shamir Breast Cancer Campaign

Called the Campaign that Gives Shamir will be taking part in Breast Cancer Awareness month fir October.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. The lifetime risk of a woman developing breast cancer is 1 in 8”. Breast Cancer Care.

Help us raise money as we donate with every Shamir branded progressive lens sold.

Shamir Cancer FunraiserFrom the beginning of October, our iconic red will change to pink in support of Breast Cancer Care.

Firstly, this means all our digital platforms will turn pink, pink website, pink logo pink, Shamir!

Secondly, we will donate with every progressive lens sold throughout the month of October.

Thirdly, we are hosting our online sweepstake to guess how many lenses are in our factory. Donate £2 to guess, and if correct, you can win a 42" smart TV!

This has already gone live via JustGiving and is available here!

Keep an eye out on our Social Media Channels for updates on Shamir’s month of campaigning!

If you’d like help, contact your Area Lens Consultant who will arrange a day to help you fundraise throughout October.

Make us aware of what you’re doing for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, tag us on Social Media (@Shamir_UKLtd) and use the hashtag #shamirturnspink.

Shamir Brien Holden Institute



We thank Shamir for being sponsors of your Free Opchat News publication. You can see their pages and link to their site from here.

WCSM Education Trust Bursary Scheme is now open for applicants to the 2017 scheme.

August 2017

WCSM Education Trust Bursary Scheme 2017 is now open for applications.

Bursaries are available to first year students starting courses at UK universities and colleges which will lead directly to work in the optical professions.

25 bursaries of up to £1,000 will be awarded, through a competitive process, with funds being paid in early November to the successful candidates.

Last year’s winners came from 10 UK universities and colleges and we are hoping for wide distribution of bursaries again this year.

Candidates must answer the questions on the application form and the form must be stamped by the relevant department or institution.

Read about last year's successful candidates here.

The form, guidance notes and a statement of process are all now available on the WCSM website:

or directly from here on PHN :

WCSM Education Trust Bursaries 2017 Application Form

WCSM Education Trust Bursaries 2017 Guidance Notes

WCSM Education Trust Bursaries 2017 Statement of Process

New research confirms Vision Impairment affects 20% of the World's population.

August 2017

Brien Holden InstituteNew global estimates of the number of people blind and vision impaired have just been published including near vision figures. Vision impairment affects economic and educational opportunities, reduces quality of life and increases the risk of death. Prevalence estimates are important for the development of public health policies, planning of education initiatives and evaluating their success.

The new research study confirms globally an estimated 36 million (0.5% of the world’s population) are blind and 1.5 billion – 20% of the world’s population – have some form of vision impairment.

This study is the first to include figures on near vision loss due to presbyopia – a condition that affects a person’s ability to read and is associated with ageing eyes – can be treated with spectacles but in many situations this solution does not occur due to contributing factors such as lack of access, lack of awareness and poverty.

Presbyopia makes up the largest proportion of vision impairment with an estimated 1095 million people aged over 35 affected, including almost 667 million people over 50.

The study also revealed gender inequity, across the global scope, with more women than men bearing the burden of vision loss, even when accounting for confounding factors such as their longer survival.

The publication reports an 18% increase overall in prevalence of blindness since 1990. The increase is attributable to population growth and ageing. However, when these factors are accounted for, we find that rates have declined over this time period.

This suggests that the modest investments made in alleviation of vision impairment over this period have reaped considerable benefits. However, the growth and change in age structure of the world’s population is causing a substantial increase in the overall number of people with blindness and vision impairment, highlighting the need to scale up our current efforts in the years to come.

Nina Tahhan, Senior Research Fellow at the Brien Holden Vision Institute, is an author on the new ground-breaking research study. “It is very pleasing to see near vision impairment, due to presbyopia, officially counted in global vision impairment estimates. It is one of the simplest vision problems to correct, as just a pair of reading glasses is needed and it is the largest contributor to vision impairment globally, yet it has been historically overlooked. We take spectacle correction for granted in the developed world, yet globally there are 1.1 billion people who are vision impaired, because they cannot access the reading glasses they need to see clearly.”

Brien Holden Vision Institute were the principle funders of this pivotal research study.

Please click here for full study report


Leeds Rhinos star opens homeless clinic

August 2017

Anthony Mullally
Leeds Rhinos prop forward, Anthony Mullally, has spoken out about supporting vulnerable people in the community as he officially opened a new optician service for the homeless.

The 26 year old was speaking at St George’s Crypt in Leeds, where Vision Care for Homeless People has opened a centre:

“I believe that people in a fortunate position like myself have a responsibility to give more than we take. I don’t understand why, in this day and age, people are living on the street – it is something that has always bothered me. I was recently trekking in Peru and it gave me a lot of time to think about these things, and I want to make a difference myself. Leeds Rhinos has a policy of going out to the community - Giving people an option in life is great,” said Anthony, who also volunteers with Streetwise in Leeds each week.

Vision Care for Homeless People opened this its 8th clinic, in Leeds to provide eye examinations and glasses in a friendly and assessable environment.

Funded and staffed by the optical profession, the team is grateful to local laboratory, Rawdon Optical which is glazing the specs for all those who attend the clinic and need specs.

Chair of the charity, Elaine Styles explained, “Homeless People do not prioritise eye care and often do not feel comfortable about going into a High Street opticians. The sad reality is that 35% of people we see have a functional vision impairment without glasses, and we have seen power ranges from +17 to -20 Dioptres. There is so much that we can do to help people get their life back on track.“

The Leeds service is being run by local optometrists led by Caroline Clarke.

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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