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About The Prison Optician Trust

We deliver prison optometry services and train prisoners in optical skills.

Our Story

How We Got Started

Tanjit Dosanjh is an Optometrist. In 2003, his father commenced a long prison sentence for a serious criminal offence. He visited his father regularly and quickly observed the lack of decent vocational training available to offenders. Tanjit completed his optometry degree in 2008. He was encouraged by news of an optical programme in California prisons where one optical lab in 1989 had grown to five labs, manufacturing over 400,000 spectacles for state health insurance companies. Several offenders have, since leaving prison, set up their own optical businesses and some have done further education to become qualified opticians.

Inspired, Tanjit set out to turn his vision into reality. In 2010, he approached the prison service to establish an optical lab in prison that could manufacture spectacles at below market rates and had the capacity to service the demands of the entire population. Frustratingly, even though he was supported by the prison service, Tanjit could not make any headway as commissioning arrangements for optical services were contracted out by other departments. Undaunted, Tanjit self-funded an optical lab in Standford Hill prison and gave up two days a week of his time to train a group of prisoners in optical skills. The pilot project became known as Liberty Needs Glasses. By the end of 2014, Tanjit could no longer continue without funding. Nonetheless, the pilot had proven that offenders could respond to training and gave him the confidence to apply to independent grant makers for full funding.

By 2015, Tanjit had secured start-up funding to finance an optical training lab in Maidstone. The grants totaling over £272,000 came from three charities: The Monument Trust, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Triangle Trust. Simultaneously, he obtained charity commission approval to set up the Trust, formerly known as Pen Optical, with six trustees experienced in the world of optics and offender rehabilitation.

Where We Are Now

We now operate as The Prison Opticians Trust – Providing eyecare services to UK Prisons. We are now the largest provider of optometry services into prisons in England and Wales. We have a team of 16 Optometrists, A lab Manager, Lab Deputy, Training Manager and Assistant General Manager, plus our regular intake of trainees studying the training course and helping with day to day tasks.

Transforming Prison Optics Since 2009

Prisoners Trained

Spectacles Made

£ Taxpayer Savings

We deliver opticians services into 53 prisons in England and Wales.

Collectively our opticians have over 50 years experience of working in prisons. Every year we test the eyes of over 14,000 prisoners and dispense over 15,000 spectacles. We have the data intelligence to accurately forecast the eye care needs of each prison and use data to model our services to ensure efficiency without compromising quality of care.

Get in Touch

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The Prison Optician Trust
County House
35 Earl Street
Maidstone
Kent
ME14 1PF
United Kingdom

01622 220448
info@prisonopticians.org

Our mission is to help prisoners reform and turn their lives around by providing them with opportunities to work within the Optical Customer Services sector and produce life-changing products which positively impact the community.

The Prison Optician Trust
County House
35 Earl Street
Maidstone
Kent
ME14 1PF
United Kingdom

01622 220448
info@prisonopticians.org