Vision Care for Homeless People (VCHP) has called for optometrists to volunteer at its regional clinics and shared Ricky Patel’s experiences of volunteering in Exeter.

Patel, who is an optometrist and clinical tutor at the University of Plymouth, highlighted that homeless people can be helped in many ways but often have urgent cases as they haven’t been able to get regular sight tests.

He said: ‘I have been doing this for six months and I have really enjoyed every minute. It’s really wonderful to think you have made a difference to that person’s life, whether it’s providing a pair of glasses, referring the patient for additional tests or just being there to have a normal conversation with them and giving them peace of mind.

‘With Covid-19, many people have had fewer interactions with others. Being able to listen to service users, show empathy and provide them with the knowledge that their eyes are healthy makes me remember why I decided to become an Optometrist. I wanted to make a difference and I feel I am doing that at VCHP.’

Contact Helen Harms ( or visit the VCHP website to find out more about available volunteer positions.