Spectacle Recycling

Here at Parker Optometrists in conjunction with the Downham Market Lions Club we have been involved in collecting spectacles for recycling for a number of years.

During a recent collection by The Lions John Fox, we fell into conversation as to what happened to the spectacles that we collected within the practice. John went away and did a little research and came back with some very interesting information.

The bins are emptied regularly and the contents forwarded to Chichester Lions Club for sorting and redistribution. Chichester Lions Club have been collecting and sorting used spectacles for almost 32 years. Collecting spectacles for recycling was a club activity as far back as 1967, however it became a major project for the club in 1980 with a delivery of 700 sorted specs to the Missionary Optical Society in Devon for use in their clinics in Kenya and India.

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The collecting area soon grew and other Lions Clubs started feeding their collections to Chichester Lions Club and over the next four years some 50,000 were sent to M.O.S. in Devon. In 1985 they linked up with the Le Havre Lions and Medico France and over the following five years some 100,000 pairs of spectacles, 43,000 lenses, and 10,000 frames were sent to Medico France while still delivering to M.O.S. as many pairs of sorted spectacles as they needed.

In 1988, another outlet was established through Vision Aid Overseas, and in 1990 Boots the Chemist and Help The Aged joined in a national campaign which produced 460,000 pairs of spectacles in six months. Once sorted they went to places such as Cameroon, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Zanzibar, Jamaica, Bolivia and Brazil. All that took more resources than the Club could sensibly provide.

Today Chichester Lions Club are receiving used spectacles from Lions clubs throughout the UK, as well as from opticians and supermarket sources within our own town. Spectacles are delivered in boxes and bags of all shapes and sizes and are processed by Club members and other volunteers in the workshop. Considerable experience is used to select the items that are suitable for recycling and to sort them in preparation for onward transmission to Medico France in Le Havre. Medico France have the necessary equipment to clean and grade the spectacles ready for use in eye camps in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.

With the help of the Inside Out Trust in the UK who grade spectacles in two UK prisons using equipment provided by Chichester Lions, the spectacles are then shipped directly to Ghana, Papua New Guinea, Nepal and Nigeria. In each case, the glasses are sent to known or Lions club contacts. They have also developed contacts with individuals and charities based in the UK who are carrying out eye-camp projects overseas, who are able to use spectacles that are recycled and supplied to them.

In fact things have grown so much that last year, over 300,000 pairs of spectacles were sent to Medico France; and through Chichester, the UK Lions clubs provide more than 50% of the spectacles processed by Medico France – more than any other national group including France itself… with your help.

There are currently three collecting bins in the town at Parker’s Optometrists in Wales Court, A J Coggles (Funeral Directors) Bridge Street and the Borough Council Offices in the Priory Centre. Please note that the spectacle cases are not required.

Thank you for your help

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