Our purpose is to change lives through better sight and hearing by making expert care accessible and affordable for everyone, especially people who are disadvantaged. This includes people experiencing homelessness, who experience a higher level of eye problems1 yet can face major barriers getting eye care. We’re working to make sure that they can better access the care they need.
in the UK today
If changes aren’t made, the Homelessness Monitor Great Britain predict that in 2023 300,000 households in the the UK could face the worst forms of homelessness2.
Homelessness is the lack of safe, secure accommodation.
Rough sleeping is the most visible form, but it’s just one type. Many people experiencing homelessness are ‘hidden’.
Hidden homelessness includes those who are sleeping on friends’ sofas and floors, in cars or living in unsuitable temporary accommodation. People in these situations often don’t show up in official statistics.
The impact of homelessness
When people experience homelessness they may need glasses to improve their sight, which in turn may help them to find accommodation, to look for work, or simply to keep themselves safe. However, they’re particularly disadvantaged when it comes to accessing eyecare.
They experience a higher level of eye problems1 than the general population and are unlikely to go to a high street optician.
Research by our charity partner Vision Care For Homeless People found that more than half of those surveyed3 (57%) reported current eyecare needs.
Nearly 65% said they’d put off going to an optician.
Due to the way NHS eligibility works, many people affected by homelessness can't get NHS help at point of care - so they’re not eligible for an NHS sight test and a voucher towards their glasses.
England and WalesRead moreRead less
StreetLink by phone, 0300 500 0914, or via the StreetLink app.
StreetLink exists to help end rough sleeping by enabling members of the public to connect people sleeping rough with the local services that can support them.
ScotlandRead moreRead less
Northern IrelandRead moreRead less
In Belfast, call the Welcome Organisation on 07894 931047 (7am-2am) and 07851 246814 (2pm-2am).
In the North West, call First Housing Aid and Support Services on 07540 100208.
In other parts of Northern Ireland, call the Housing Executive on 03448 920908.
There is also the Homeless Support helpline on 0800 171 2222.
- Gelberg L, Andersen RM, Leake BD. (2000) Healthcare Access and Utilization. The Behavioral Model for Vulnerable Populations: Application to Medical Care Use and Outcomes for Homeless People Health Service Research 34, 1273-1302. National Centre for Biotechnology Information 2000
- Crisis (no date) About homelessness [online] available at https://www.crisis.org.uk/ending-homelessness/about-homelessness/
- Homeless voices (2019) Unpublished by VCHP