2019 was an exciting year for corporate social responsibility with a number of firsts at Optical Express. To begin with, we introduced a new role for the company and Heather Suttie joined us as Corporate Social Responsibility Manager. Heather’s new role incorporates sustainability, environmental focus and philanthropy.
In July, Optical Express supported Race Against Dementia, the charity set up by former Formula 1 legend, Sir Jackie Stewart OBE. The company sponsored a series of 2-hour endurance races held at Larkhall Circuit, with 100% of all proceeds going to Race Against Dementia's pioneering Fellowship programme. This programme actively seeks out early-career scientists with innovative research proposals and supports new approaches to better understanding the prevention and treatment of the diseases underlying dementia.
This was followed in November, by the inaugural Race Against Dementia Gala Dinner in Glasgow at 200 SVS and was attended by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Sir Jackie’s charitable efforts are being backed by a host of racing talent including ex-Formula 1 star David Coulthard MBE, Indy Car Legend Dario Franchitti MBE, and F1 world champion, Damon Hill OBE. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I know how determined Sir Jackie is, not just to support Lady Helen, but also to help advance the crucial dementia research agenda. She added “I want to thank the Stewart family for everything they are doing through Race Against Dementia and assure them that the Scottish Government is committed to exploring how we can work together on dementia research. The First Minister concluded “Later this year, we will launch Scotland’s first national Brain Health Centre that will work to ensure that optimal brain health is central to our future public health strategies, research and clinical practice.”
David Moulsdale, CEO and Founder of Optical Express, said: “I’m hugely proud that Optical Express is able to support Race Against Dementia’s collaborative, innovative approach to tackling this devastating illness. He added “Sir Jackie’s leadership on this issue is inspiring and it’s a privilege to be involved in this work. Moulsdale also shared future plans, saying “At Optical Express we’re also in talks with the brilliant dementia research team at the University of Edinburgh about a collaboration regarding a predictive index for dementia using clinical data. This could lead to real breakthroughs in our understanding of the disease.”
Almost 1400 members of staff signed up for the Optical Express Environmental Pledge and we introduced a number of initiatives to reduce our environmental impact in our daily business. We launched our contact lens recycling scheme in more than 120 clinics throughout the UK and Ireland after Optical Express research found that 97% of contact lens wearers are damaging the environment.
Journalist and environmentalist Lucy Siegle supported our drive to educate the public about marine pollution caused by contact lens pollution and appeared on Sky TV’s Sunrise programme to talk about the environmental impact of disposing of used contact lenses and their packaging incorrectly and the Daily Mail picked up on our research.
Dr Hilary Jones also supported our research findings and shared his views that laser eye surgery is better for your eye health, your wallet and the environment.
Scottish Water and Scotland’s leading environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful also supported our drive to educate and inform the public about contact lens pollution and the importance of considering more sustainable alternative choices for vision correction.
We also encouraged more than 100 contact lens wearers to take part in a crowd-action exercise where we saved more than 6000 pieces of single-use plastic from being disposed of in landfill or causing marine pollution.
Optical Express joined the UK’s leading marine charity, the Marine Conservation Society and our Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Heather Suttie, also attended their AGM and a team of eight staff from Glasgow, Portsmouth, Bristol, Cardiff and Southampton took part in our first ever beach clean-up ( video ) in support of the Marine Conservation Society. We picked up almost 300 pieces of litter and plastic at Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust and we will be organising more beach-clean ups throughout the UK and Ireland in 2020.
Almost 80 members of staff took part in Restart A Heart Day, learning the life-saving skills of CPR.
And Optical Express raised tens of thousands of pounds for local and national charities, including Scotland’s STV Children’s Appeal where £15,000 was donated. This is in addition to scores of local causes supported by more than 120 clinics throughout the UK and Ireland and our office functions where we fundraise on a monthly basis.
Our Thanks a Million campaign saw Optical Express donate £1 million worth of laser eye surgery to NHS and emergency service workers. The initiative followed a national survey commissioned by Optical Express, which found that people who dedicate their lives to public service 'are most deserving of our thanks'.
We aim to become the world’s most socially and environmentally conscious eye care provider and we are hugely excited about all the initiatives we will be launching throughout 2020.
You can view some of our corporate social responsibility highlights in this video.Read more about our Charity Work here