Stafffinders sift through a mountain of specs which have been collected

An article from the Paisley Daily Express - 8th April 2010

By Jeff Holmes

Stafffinders sift through a mountain of specs which have been collected.

Caring buddies proved they have plenty of 'specs' appeal by donating over 2,000 pairs of glasses to charity.  Workers at the Stafffinders recruitment agency, in New Street, Paisley, launched an appeal on behalf of Vision Aid in a bid to help out with an appalling lack of eyecare in the developing world.

Churches, schools and many other organisations came up trumps by placing a large collection box on their premises.

Volunteers then collected in all of the boxes and began the mammoth task of counting the contents.

Staffffinders worker Donna O'Brien said: "Once we had finished, we had 2,225 pairs of glasses, I counted them all myself and it took ages but it's all for a great cause as needy people are going to get good use out of them.  So many people have helped with our appeal and the specs we've collected so far will go to help people in countries such as Malawi, Ethiopia and Zambia. 

"We're in the process of packing them up and will soon be shipping them out to Vision Aid, who will distribute them immediately."

Vision Aid began their overseas work in 1985, when a group of optometrists and dispensing opticians decided to do something about the obvious lack of eyecare in Africa.

They each took two weeks out of their practices to establish clinics in Tanzania, where they tested the eyes of local people and dispensed second-hand spectacles collected in the UK.

Since registering as a charity in 1987, Vision Aid Overseas optical volunteers have operated hundreds of clinics in 23 countries and tested the eyes of over 600,000 patients, helping more than 350,000 people to see with a pair of spectacles.

A number of years back, Jane Wylie-Roberts, owner of Stafffinders, ran a highly-successful campaign that involved collecting tens of thousands of old spectacles and redistributing these to various countries in Africa through Vision Aid Overseas.

The campaign was restarted late last year, with Vision Aid spectacle boxes distributed to many schools, churches and charity shops across Renfrewshire.

Children and parishioners have again given the campaign an overwhelming thumbs-up by contributing thousands of spectacles from St Mirin's Cathedral, Martyrs' Church, Cedar's School of Excellence, Gleniffer High School, The Salvation Army and The British Heart Foundation, to name but a few.

Now Donna and her team at Stafffinders are keen to further build on the generosity of Buddies and are appealing for companies or organisations to place a collection box in their premises.

She said: "We're hoping to reach the 10,000 mark with our current appeal and are already a quarter of the way there.

"I would ask businesses, doctor's surgeries, dentists and any other organisations to get in touch with me if they can help."