A brand new Vision Care for Homeless People's (VCHP) clinic has officially opened its doors to the public in Leeds. Locals say this facility will be a great service for the less fortunate in the West Yorkshire city.
The Leeds VCHP opening ceremony attracted a great deal of star power. Irish rugby star Anthony Mullally officially cut the VCHP ribbon and gave a short speech on the importance of getting involved in the community.
Mullally, who plays for the Leeds Rhinos, said it's extremely important for people who are well-off to give to those who are down on their luck. Mullally said, "I don't understand why, in this day and age, people are living on the street – it is something that has always bothered me."
He went on to say that the Leeds Rhinos encourages players to do volunteer work on a regular basis. Mullally said he's glad to know this clinic be able to give homeless people thorough eye tests for free.
The Leeds clinic is the eighth VCHP centre in the UK. The other seven clinics are located in cities like Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton, and London.
A group of local optometrists headed by Caroline Clarke will be on hand to help anyone who visits the clinic. The company Rawdon Optical is going to handle the costs of glazing spectacles for needy people who visit this facility. A few other organizations helping out this new clinic include Specsavers, Three Sixty, and the Charles and Elsie Sykes Foundation.
Elaine Styles, the current chair of VCHP, told reporters that there are far too many people in the UK unnecessarily struggling with vision impairment. Estimates show that around 35 percent of people in the UK have functional vision impairment. Styles said some of VCHP optometrists have seen people without glasses who need power ranges "from +17 to -20."
Residents can find this new Leeds clinic in the St. George's Crypt area.
VCHP is on a mission to empower the homeless with access to free vision tests all across the UK. This nonprofit organization won the prestigious "Charity of the Year" award in 2012 from the Association of Optometrists.