Specsavers and the Hope Foundation
Specsavers’ purpose is to improve the lives of people through better sight — one of the many ways Specsavers does this is by providing eyecare to disadvantaged people in India, working with the Hope Foundation.
What is the Hope Foundation?
The Hope Foundation is a registered Irish charity working with street and slum children in Kolkata. The charity works to improve their lives by providing access to healthcare and nutrition, education, drug rehabilitation and life skills and training. With the help of Specsavers, The Hope Foundation established a Blindness Eradication Programme in Kolkata bringing improved eyecare to families living in street and slum communities.
Our charitable relationship with Hope
Our relationship with Hope started in 2017 when store partner, Lisa Walsh, travelled to Kolkata with three Specsavers colleagues to support the eye clinic. On her return, Lisa spoke to stores about the work she did, and the group voted to nominate Hope as a charity partner, first signing up to a three-year relationship.
Specsavers marketing team also came onboard to support by part-funding the running of the eye clinic. Outside of funding the eye clinic, partners have also fundraised to purchase much needed optical equipment for the Hope Hospital.
Each year, roughly 10 Specsavers colleagues visit Kolkata to carry out an intense, week-long eye clinic that sees them visit the street and slum communities in Kolkata.
In 2020, we further showed our commitment to Hope and the eye clinic by agreeing to cover the education and living costs for students undertaking the two-year Optometry Diploma course.
Why is our work for Hope so important?
We take excellent eyecare for granted, Specsavers is on every high street, but this is not the case for many disadvantaged people in Kolkata. Something as simple as an eye test and lack of glasses is preventing adults and children from attending school, finding jobs and being able to provide for themselves.
Since 2018, we’ve helped the Hope Foundation treat over 25,000 disadvantaged adults and children and dispensed over 14,000 pairs of glasses. We give €45,000 annually to cover the cost of running the Hope Hospital’s eyecare clinic in Kolkata and are funding eight students for whom college education was never an option, through optometry college.
Specsavers has helped the Hope Foundation with the following:
25,580 adults and children had their eyes tested in 151 eye camps
6,525 patients were treated in 368 eye clinics at Hope Hospital
14,388 free pairs of glasses were dispensed
1,198 eye surgeries were performed at Hope Hospital
9,221 free medical prescriptions were issued
A message from the Hope Foundation
Speaking on behalf of The Hope Foundation, director and founder Maureen Forrest says:
‘Our partnership with Specsavers is having a profound impact in Kolkata. It is hard to believe that in these times, before Covid, something as simple as an eye test and lack of glasses are preventing adults and children from attending school and finding jobs.
‘Specsavers’ support has transformed this hopeless situation for thousands of people, changing lives in the process. Not only do they fund-raise for the partnership, but they have sent staff over to Kolkata to give their valuable time and skills on the ground, to meet the beneficiaries and to witness the difference first-hand.
‘We are so grateful and proud of what has been achieved so far, and even more grateful for their unwavering support in a year that has been so difficult for many. We are thankful for their commitment to the eye clinic but also for supporting these eight wonderful students. They will have changed the lives of so many today and for generations to come through this one act of education support.’
Twenty-five year old, Rintu, was lying down in the street, unable to sit or stand due to illness. He was suffering from weakness due to prolonged starvation. He was rescued from the street by the Missionaries of Charity and admitted to Hope Hospital in July 2021, where doctors discovered he had he lost his vision.
Food and medication were provided to get his physical strength back, before Hope Hospital eye surgeon, Dr Goutam Dutta, detected a cataract in his left eye. After doing all the necessary medical tests and eye tests, his cataract eye surgery was done in the Hope Hospital Eye Operation Theatre.
After surgery, Rintu got his vision back and has regained his confidence. Through counselling, he shared his past life. He had worked in a market but when he lost his sight, he was left unemployed and stayed on the street without money and food. Gradually he became physically weak.
Rintu was about to lose his life and vision at a young age but was able to go back to work and become economically independent again with the help of Hope Hospital and Specsavers.
Jyotsna, 65, was found lying on the street in a very sick condition and could not see. She was rescued from the street on In late December 2020, by Hope’s Night Round Mobile Medical Unit. She had no belongings, there was no one to look after her, and was in a very unhygienic state.
She was admitted to Hope Hospital where her hygiene was immediately addressed, and she was given a meal. The doctor then carried out a check-up and cataracts were found in both eyes. Necessary eye testing and other medical tests were done, and Jyotsna underwent cataract surgery. She got her vision back and her confidence grew.
Through counselling, it was found that she had relatives and was married but was not accepted by her in-laws. She lived with her parents, sisters and brothers, but the problems started after the death of her parents. The family did not take care of her and two years ago, she was left abandoned on the street. After post-operative care, she has been rehabilitated in a home for the elderly and she is very happy.