Free sight tests for the city’s homeless

Homeless people in Salisbury have received free eye examinations thanks to an independent optician.

Members of staff from Haine & Smith in Amesbury visited Alabaré Place in Salisbury on Friday, 24 June, to check the eye health and sight of some of its residents. Those that needed glasses then went on to choose free frames in readiness for the prescription to be fitted.

The frames they could choose from have been donated by members of the public through a successful donation drive, as well as companies such as Wolf Eyewear. Following an appeal for members of the public to donate their old spectacles, more than 3,000 pairs have been handed into Haine & Smith practices across the region.

These are then cleaned and fixed, if needed, ready for new lenses to be added. Frames that are too old or too damaged to be re-used, are handed over to the Local Chippenham Lions Club who use them to raise money for their own eye care charity.

Anna Lewin, clinical lead optometrist and partner at Haine & Smith, said: “This is the third pop-up test centre we’ve carried out and they have all been very well received. As Alabaré Place is bigger than the other two homes we’ve visited, we brought two sets of equipment to make sure we could help as many of the residents as possible. A massive thank you needs to go to Thomson Software who have supplied us with the equipment each time, to support these clinics going ahead.”

The partnership with regional charity Alabaré, which provides support for homeless and vulnerable people across the county, started after it was named charity of the year by Haine & Smith in 2021. The opticians decided that rather than simply raise money for the charity, they wanted to create a partnership that would improve the lives of the people supported by them for years to come.

During the visit, 15 people supported by Alabaré were tested and the team will go back in a couple of weeks to deliver and fit the new glasses. One of the residents who took advantage of the free service was Henry. He commented that: “This is going to help tremendously. I wouldn’t have been able to walk into one of their shops due to my anxiety. So, them coming here, and the follow up support with the free glasses is phenomenal. I’m due to get varifocals with added glare protection which I could never have afforded myself. I just want to say thank you to everyone at Haine & Smith, this is really going to help me with my confidence”.

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