Looking out for the homeless: vision services for the most vulnerable

How volunteers at charity Vision Care for Homeless People are helping to meet the ocular needs of these forgotten members of society.

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Homelessness is on the rise in the UK. While the true picture of this often hidden problem is hard to assess across the devolved nations (Government Statistical Service, 2019), homelessness charity Shelter estimated around 320,000 people in the UK were homeless at the beginning of 2018 – up 13,000 in a year (Shelter, 2018). 

Rough sleepers might be the most visible homeless, but homelessness affects a far wider range of people, including those in temporary accommodation, sleeping temporarily at friends’ houses, or living in unfit dwellings, and those threatened with homelessness.

Those experiencing homelessness are in worse health than the general population, being more than twice as likely to report a physical health issue, and much more likely to suffer mental illness, with 44% of the homeless population having a mental health diagnosis compared with 23% of the general population (Crisis, 2016). 

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