Partners help Barnabus offer free eye tests and COVID-19 vaccines We’re always looking to connect with organisations that can help us provide more services to our friends. Whether they offer additional support with some of the challenges our friends face – such as addiction – or join us for sessions in the Beacon, partnering with others enables us to help our friends move on to an independent life. This past year, we’ve been lucky enough to meet Suleman Atcha, an NHS Optician. Read on to discover how he’s offered his invaluable expertise, and the difference it’s made. Increasing access to healthcare Suleman has been coming to Barnabus’ morning support sessions once a month since June 2021. He set up in the medical suite of our Beacon Support Centre, and throughout the morning stands ready to offer our friends free eye tests as well as order in prescription glasses that meet their needs. Our friends often have chaotic lives and limited access to GPs and other healthcare services. If they believe their eyesight is ‘passable’ for their day-to-day lives, it can often take a back seat. This is why we think it’s so important to provide easy access to as many services as possible. Making a huge difference To date, Suleman has seen 12 of our friends and given each of them an eyesight examination. “I’ve been delighted to offer this vital service,” he said. “Many of the visitors to Barnabus hadn’t been to the opticians in years, and either had glasses for the wrong prescription or didn’t have glasses at all. It’s a pleasure to help in any way I can.” Indeed, one of our friends was found to have a prescription of minus 13! We’re all amazed at how they were able to manage for so long without glasses. Being part of a wider support network Everyone deserves the same access to healthcare, and we’re always looking to provide more for our friends here at Barnabus. Our support centre is a place they know and feel safe in, so it’s a great opportunity to show them the range of further support they can access if they want to. A great example of this was the success we and our Manchester Homeless Project partners saw with the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. There was a lot of hesitancy around the vaccine, but a mobile vaccination van was able to see our friends in a place they trusted, and this helped to boost confidence. Run by the Urban Village Medical Practice, the van visited many homeless projects in Manchester – and we’re delighted to report that a large percentage of our friends are now better protected from the virus. Can your organisation help? If you work for an organisation that you think could offer care to our friends, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you and see how we could work together. Call 0161 237 3223, email [email protected], or drop by our office in Manchester.