Glasses reach The Gambia

Chair of BACE Tracy Barnett and business development manager Fara Mendy present the glasses to Sarjo Kanyi

Chair of BACE Tracy Barnett and business development manager Fara Mendy present the glasses to Sarjo Kanyi

Second hand spectacles collected in the UK have now been delivered to the National Eye Health Programme in The Gambia.

Around 3,000 pairs were handed over to the programme manager Sarjo Kanyi.

The glasses were delivered by the chair of BACE (Building and Assisting Communities with Education) during a recent visit to The Gambia.

Glasses were collected up and down the country with collection bins in shops, cafes and offices, as well as a bin at the York City Football Club on a match day at the end of last year. The project was supported by Benenden Hospital and its parent company Benenden.

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Second hand spectacles appeal results in 3,000 pairs

Francis Mendy and Charlotte Barnett at Benenden Hospital with just some of the many glasses

Francis Mendy and Charlotte Barnett at Benenden Hospital with just some of the many glasses

benenden hospital and benenden health have collected more than 3,000 pairs of second hand spectacles for people in the West African country of The Gambia.

The project was run in conjunction with a UK registered charity called BACE, Building and Assisting Communities with Education, which runs a health clinic in The Gambia and a school, both in an impoverished village called Bonsa.

The glasses were given to two representatives from the charity this week – trustee Charlotte Barnett and business development manager Francis Mendy, who lives and works in The Gambia.

BACE trustee Charlotte Barnett inspects a batch of glasses

BACE trustee Charlotte Barnett inspects a batch of glasses

The glasses are now being packed into a shipping container, which was sponsored by benenden hospital and which leaves the UK at the end of January. It will take several weeks to reach The Gambia and will be unpacked by a team of BACE volunteers in March. At this time the charity’s chair, Tracy Barnett, will present the second hand glasses to The Gambia’s National Eye Health Programme.

The glasses will then be given to people who might otherwise struggle to afford a pair of spectacles and would probably simply go without, making every day tasks such as working, cooking, reading and earning a living, extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Glasses were collected at benenden hospital, in Cranbrook, Kent, at the benenden health offices in York, at shops, cafes and businesses in Kent and York and at 10 benenden approved hospitals across the UK.

Chair of BACE, Tracy Barnett, said: “Myself and all the trustees would like to say a massive thank you to benenden for collecting so many glasses. The support has just been staggering from so many people. Without the support from benenden this campaign would not have been possible for the charity.

“We will be presenting the glasses to the programme manager at the National Eye Health programme in The Gambia at the beginning of March, where they will be utilised to help to support so many people in the poorest rural communities in this country.

“The collection of glasses was a temporary one off campaign for the charity as their primary aim for the next 24 months is to focus on the sustainability of their newly built and opened primary health clinic, which will support in the region of 20,000 people living in one of the poorest areas of The Gambia.”

BACE business development manager Francis Mendy collects donated glasses

BACE business development manager Francis Mendy collects donated glasses

Three opticians tested and labelled the glasses before they were handed over. They were Joanne Burgesss, from Wilson Wilson and Hancock in Tenterden, Kent, Eimer Hammond from the Hammond Optical Practice in Cranbrook, Kent and Amanda Bahadur from the Focus Medical Eye Centre in Hailsham, Sussex.

Jane Barlow, benenden hospital’s PR Executive who co-ordinated the appeal, said: “Thank you to everyone who donated their old spectacles – we didn’t expect to collect just so many! Also thank you to all the businesses and benenden approved hospitals who supported our campaign and in particular thanks to the three opticians who undertook the painstaking work of testing and labelling each pair, which must have taken many hours.”

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Glasses still arriving

glasses parcel

Donated second hand spectacles are still arriving for our glasses for The Gambia campaign.

Thank you to the Benenden Health approved hospitals around the UK who collected glasses for us during November and December and who have posted them to us over the Christmas break.

Recently we have received parcels from the Sancta Maria Hospital in Swansea and from the Ramsay West Midlands Hospital in the West Midlands. We are also expecting a parcel from the Berkshire Independent Hospital in Reading.

Thank you to all our partner hospitals who took part.

We are due to give most of the glasses to the charity BACE tomorrow. The handover will take place at Benenden Hospital in Cranbrook, Kent.

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Labelled glasses

glasses labelled 002

Today and tomorrow we are collecting in glasses which three local opticians have kindly been sorting and labelling for us.

Today we collected from Eimer Hammond, from the Hammond Optical Practice in Cranbrook, who has kindly sorted our glasses into bifocals, varifocals, single vision glasses and sunglasses. She has also labelled them according to the strength of the lens. Painstaking work as we gave each of our opticians hundreds of pairs to sort through over the Christmas and New Year period.

Tomorrow we are collecting from Wilson Wilson and Hancock in Tenterden and from Focus Medical Eye Centre in Hailsham.

A big thank you to all for their many hours hard work.

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Opticians face a busy Christmas

Lizzie King, from the Focus Medical Eye Centre in Hailsham, East Sussex

Lizzie King, from the Focus Medical Eye Centre in Hailsham, East Sussex

Lizzie King from the Focus Medical Eye Centre in Hailsham, East Sussex, along with colleague Amanda Bahadur are going to be busy over the Christmas period – testing and labelling second hand glasses.

Both have kindly agreed to help with our glasses for The Gambia appeal, which is being run by Benenden Hospital, Benenden Health and the UK registered charity BACE.

Glasses have been collected from sites in Kent, York and at Benenden Health approved hospitals up and down the country. A team of optical experts are now labelling them, according to the strength of the lenses, before they are shipped to The Gambia at the beginning of 2015.

BACE will be handing them over to The Gambia’s National Eye Health Programme who will give them to needy people, who would struggle to buy a new pair of spectacles.

Other opticians helping to grade and label glasses over the Christmas and New Year period are Joanne Burgess from Wilson Wilson and Hancock in Tenterden, Kent and Eimer Hammond from the Hammond Optical Practice in Cranbrook, Kent.

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Gathering up donated glasses

Kentish Express senior reporter Tricia Jamieson empties donated glasses into a black sack

Kentish Express senior reporter Tricia Jamieson empties donated glasses into a black sack

Today we are gathering up all the second hand glasses which have been left in collection boxes in Kent.

At the end of last week collection boxes in York were emptied – and we are estimating that we will end up with at least 2,000 pairs, possibly a lot more.

The first stop today was the Kentish Express office in Ashford – where there were around 150 pairs waiting for us.

Thank you to everyone who has donated!

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Another optician helps with glasses appeal

Far left, Amanda Bahadur, on a recent visit to Benenden Hospital's eye unit

Far left, Amanda Bahadur, on a recent visit to Benenden Hospital’s eye unit

We now have a third optician helping us with our glasses for The Gambia appeal.

Amanda Bahadur, who has her own practice at the Focus Medical Eye Centre in Hailsham and who also works at Barraclough and Stiles in Battle, will be testing second hand spectacles for us over Christmas and New Year.

Amanda offered to help after paying a recent visit to Benenden Hospital, in Cranbrook, Kent, who are leading the appeal, together with Benenden Health and a charity called BACE, Building and Assisting Communities with Education. Amanda visited the hospital’s eye unit to find out more about the cataract service and to watch an operation.

Amanda will test donated second hand glasses and label each pair according to the strength of the lens. This was a request from the National Eye Health Programme in The Gambia, West Africa, whom the glasses are going to be given to.

BACE volunteers will pack the glasses into a shipping container in January 2015. The container will be shipped at the end of January and unpacked in March. BACE will deliver the glasses to the National Eye Health Programme.

Also testing and labelling glasses for us are Joanne Burgess, from Wilson Wilson and Hancock in Tenterden and Eimer Hammond from The Hammond Optical Practice in Cranbrook.

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Donate your glasses – now!

Donate your second hand glasses

Donate your second hand glasses

There is only one day left to donate your old spectacles to our glasses for The Gambia appeal.

The deadline for donations is Friday, 19 December.

We will be emptying and removing collection boxes from our venues up and down the country over the weekend and on Monday, 22 December.

Once collected glasses will then be tested and labelled thanks to Kent opticians Joanne Burgess, from Wilson Wilson and Hancock in Tenterden and Eimer Hammond at The Hammond Optical Practice in Cranbrook, who are kindly supporting our campaign.

They will be packed into a shipping container at the beginning of January by volunteers from the charity BACE, Building and Assisting Communities with Education. In March the chair of BACE, Tracy Barnett, will hand the glasses over to the National Eye Health Programme in The Gambia. They will then be given to needy people.
Thank you to everyone who has supported our appeal. If you miss the Friday, 19 December deadline you will no longer be able to donate glasses, but could consider a donation to the BACE charity to help them to continue their good work.

Visit the Donate page on this blog to find out how.

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Church goers donate specs

Rev Julie Coleman, from St Nicholas Church, New Romney

Rev Julie Coleman, from St Nicholas Church, New Romney

Parishioners from St Nicholas Church in New Romney have donated second hand glasses to our appeal.

Rev Julie Coleman delivered the glasses to Benenden Hospital last week.

About 30 pairs were donated.

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Second optician joins our project

Optician Eimer Hammond with Benenden Hospital's Gary Vaughan

Optician Eimer Hammond with Benenden Hospital’s Gary Vaughan

A second optician has kindly agreed to help us with our glasses for The Gambia appeal.

Eimer Hammond, from The Hammond Optical Practice in Cranbrook, Kent, is going to test spectacles for us and label them according to the strength of the lens. Eimer is pictured taking two boxes of glasses from Benenden Hospital‘s business development manager Gary Vaughan.

We also have Joanne Burgess, at Wilson Wilson and Hancock in Tenterden helping. Due to the volumes of secondhand glasses we are receiving we would welcome any other offers of help too!

Thank you Eimer for coming on board with this appeal.

 

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