Northampton optician ‘giving something back’ by helping the homeless this Christmas

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A Northampton optician will spend the festive period ‘making a difference’ to dozens of homeless people, forming part of a medical team giving free check-ups to some of the most vulnerable members of society.

Andrew Oliver, part of the team at Tompkins, Knight & Son Optometrists in Kingsley Road, Northampton, will spend two days in London volunteering for national charity, Crisis.

He will form part of an expert team of healthcare professionals, including doctors, dentists and podiatrists, who will give free advice and treatment to ‘guests’ at Crisis-run drop-in centres over the Christmas period.

The 36-year-old, who has worked in optics for 15 years, said: “It’s a great feeling knowing that you can really make a difference to someone’s Christmas. Many of the people we help won’t come into contact with the basic healthcare services many of us take for granted.

“My role will see me dispensing lenses and glasses to those who need them. I’ll help choose the frames and lenses based on their prescriptions. It’s good to give something back and sometimes one little act can help change someone’s life for the better.”

It is the second year Mr Oliver has taken part in ‘Crisis at Christmas’ and he will form part of a team of up to 50 healthcare professionals volunteering at the event, which takes place from December 27 to 29.

At last year’s event, a total of 268 people were given eye examinations, while 242 pairs of glasses were given out.

The volunteers also help packing bags containing winter essentials, including gloves, an A-Z street map, toiletries and tinned food.

Mr Oliver said: “Often these people are just like the rest of us. They may have been in the Armed Forces and are struggling to adapt to civilian life or they may have been lost by social services.

“I think any of us could just be one bit of bad luck away from joining them so it’s important to help out in any way we can.”

The average age of death of a homeless person is 47, compared to 77 for the general population.

For more information on Crisis at Christmas, visit http://www.crisis.org.uk/.