Council Secretary Portfolio Reports

Council Secretary Report

PCC Phil Robinson

Council Secretary

When I took up the role of Council Secretary in May 2018, it was to support this wonderful Multiple District of ours and all the fantastic Lions we have who give up their time to support their communities. It has been 4 years of challenge, interest and proof that the world needs Lions more now than ever, and I really hope that I have been able to move this Multiple District forward and offer that support to the best of my ability.

I did say at the beginning I would commit to 4 years in this busy post, and therefore, gave notice last July to Council I would stand down in June 22. I believe Lions should not stay in posts too long as this organisation needs constant new blood and new ideas, otherwise you just get the same old faces.  I have been training my replacement Past Council Chairman Peter Burnett and I wish him every success as he takes up the post. 

One of my key responsibilities is National Headquarters (formally known as MDHQ). The past year was again affected by Covid, and I am really proud to say that we kept the office running all year, and I am sure you all will join me in thanking Brigitte, Jan, Stephanie and Mandy for being there on the end of the phone. They have provided advice and support for our lions, at times in a pastural role which has been so important to many who found themselves at home alone during lock down. 

A big step forward has been running Council Meetings on-line. Covid forced this move, but having taken this step, even though we can meet again in person, Council have agreed to meet online for their January meeting each year, which has resulted in a significant budget saving.  

This last year has seen the setting up of the second spectacle recycling centre at Nat HQ, and this is going from strength to strength with over 700,000 spectacles processed so far, with a committed group of local volunteers. Again, thanks to Chichester lions for their help and support with the set up and training and to Brigitte for managing the process. 

One of my main objectives over the last 4 years has to bring Lions into the modern world in terms of its systems and technology. Technical training and support is my background, so I have rolled out Office 365 and Microsoft Teams to Council and MD Officers. I have supported all the Council teams and MD Officers with training and I would take this opportunity to thank IT Dave Allen also for his support.  I am not going to pretend this has been plain sailing, trying to convince volunteers, including some long-term MD Officers to adopt new ideas and working practices, when it is clear they are more comfortable in the 1980’s, has been a challenge and will remain so going forward.

We have however made progress, and improved openness and access to information for Governor Teams and MD Officers and improved security and Data Protection. I am pleased to see that several Districts have now started their own journey rolling out Office 365 and Teams which is free from Microsoft for non-profits. 

The Teleconferencing facilities at Nat HQ I introduced in 2018, has proved its worth allowing hybrid meetings, and indeed an online Convention, saving Lions many travel hours and petrol costs.

My parting project has been to initiate an update of the telephone systems at National HQ.  We now have an agreed the roll out of a new VOIP system (Voice over internet), which all business will need to adopt in the next couple of years. This is in final stages of planning and should be up and running in the next few weeks. This will represent a significant cost saving to the Multiple District.

I would like to thank all the various Council and Vice Council teams for their understanding as we have tried new tech ideas, and I hope that the journey will continue in the future to use the benefits of modern technology to improve communication, transparency, security and save us time and money. 

And lastly, to thank the team at National HQ for their dedication, support and service during my time as Council Secretary. Lions of this MD are very fortunate to have Brigitte, Jan, Stephanie and Mandy and I will miss working with them all. 

Deputy Council Secretary Report 

PCC Lion Peter Burnett 

MD Deputy Council Secretary

Another year well and truly affected by Covid, it has meant that my role as SAA has been quite limited although the Deputy Council Secretary role has been as busy as ever although some of the meetings were held on Zoom and meant that no commuting to the Midlands was required! (I’m not complaining!).

The Council meetings for next July and October have been booked at Chesford Grange in Kenilworth. As always, I must express my thanks to the ‘adorable Brigitte ‘ for liaising with the hotel and booking the required dates.

My main Deputy Council Secretary role is to take the minutes of council meetings which I have managed to do, they have all been available almost as soon as the meetings end.

I thank Council for appointing me to this role once again, I am looking forward to finally acting as SAA at the convention itself. 

Next year I am becoming the Council Secretary so my workload will increase substantially. I look forward to the new challenge and hope that I can emulate the present incumbent PCC Phil Robinson. 

National Head Quarters Report

Office Manager Brigitte Green

Our mission is to serve those that serve ……

A very busy time at National HQ. The phone never stops as visitors to National HQ will verify. We have been involved in supporting many of the Portfolio Chairs and Officers and of course all our Lion members across the British Isles and beyond. Here are some highlights.

Developed HQ into a second recycle for sight centre. Back ground story to this decision  shown in Appendix 1

Supported the Council Secretary - I hope we have helped Lion Phil to grow into the role of Council Secretary the role involves many and varied tasks. His four years in office seemed to have flown by although Covid has defined some of the time Phil has spent in Office. We hope he will recall his time working with us with good memories. We  will do all we can to support the new CS Peter Burnett when he takes office on July 1st. We have a close working relationship with Council Treasurer PCC Philip Goodier and I thank all of the DG Team and Council Officers for all their support and encouragement 

MIAB - Delighted to report the requests for single bottles and pallets has now increased as we come out of covid. There are no delays in actioning requests for bottles

Data Protection Training

We have undergone Data Protection Training with Lion Robyn and we work closely with PCC Heather Jeavons on all compliance issues. Often complaints come in via HQ and we have to ensure they are passed onto Heather. I should balance that by saying all the complementary emails come in first and those we are pleased to pass on

Health and Safety Audit

Lion Andrew Wilcox our H/S Officer attended National HQ to complete a Health and Safety Check and full separate Fire Risk assessment has taken place – we have some minor details to work on but over all we have come through the assessments well

MD Convention 2022

A face to face Convention once again and working closely with the Convention team has hopefully helped to put together an exciting programme for the weekend of Convention. 

District Conventions 2021

We sent supplies to 7 Districts and all Districts did well with their sales.

Worrying trends

Again it is sad to report that we have had a number of Club members who have claimed to have been ‘bullied’ in their Clubs by other members. We should be aware that this as it is one reason that we are losing members. Our concern is that whilst new members are being recruited successfully they will not stay as they feel they are not being ‘managed’ correctly. Although attracting and gaining younger members into the Lions Family is highly necessary we are not sure that Club Officers know how to harness the best from these members. Perhaps we should spend some more time  within VDG training in handling disputes and grievances with role play!!

New Phone system 

In the last few months we have changed the broadband and phone system at HQ and now use the latest technology of internet phone calls which has helped to decrease costs on the calls we make. 

Sight Awareness and Recycle for Sight update

Dear Fellow Lions

Latest updates concerning spectacle recycling from National Headquarters

We now have two recycling centres in Chichester and Birmingham. Why two??
The organisation known as Vision Aid Overseas was the biggest name in the recycling of spectacles world. during Covid they decided to cease trading and that elevated Lions Clubs to the number one slot (almost overnight). The demand then placed on Chichester grew ten fold and the team raised the alarm that they were struggling to cope with the huge numbers of glasses now coming in. Council agreed, we had to act and in consultation with Chichester and the team working at HQ and the Global Service Team it was decided we would open a second recycle centre at HQ. The team from Chichester helped to get the first floor of HQ set up as a new recycling centre and a visit to Chichester from the HQ Office Manager helped to understand more on the processes involved.

Spectacle processing at National Headquarters (HQ) has been operational since 1st October 2021 and goes from strength to strength. HQ receive spectacles from 105CW, CN and N. Our National Headquarters are working in collaboration with Chichester Lions who continue to receive spectacles from the other districts. Clubs can either deliver their consignments to HQ themselves or have them delivered (at the clubs own cost, unfortunately). Bearing in mind the numbers involved, please ensure that your club contacts HQ (0121 441 4544) beforehand to arrange a mutually agreeable date. A team of local volunteers has been recruited and trained to help sort the spectacles in Birmingham.

What happens to the spectacles ?Some of the spectacles we collect will be recycled to have a second use as they are broken or unsuitable spectacles. Some of the spectacles we receive go on to help children and adults in developing countries to enjoy a better quality of life. Countries that have received spectacles from Lions include Brazil, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Senegal, Greece, Amazon River Basin, Nepal, Ethiopia, Jordan, Cuba, Mongolia, Peru, Honduras, Guatemala, The Dominican Republic, Panama and Indonesia. Exactly as Chichester has done HQ will work with Medico in France to continue to get suitable spectacles moved on to those that need them. Brexit has been a new challenge but after meeting with the District Governor in France that covers the area that homes Medico we know we are all together to find some solutions to those challenges. In the meantime we are working with other Charities that ship various items abroad and they want to offer our spectacles to those that don't experience the standards of eye care that we have at our disposal. Spectacles sorted in HQ have already been shipped to The Gambia ,Chad and Tanzania. Many will experience corrected vision for the first time, enabling them to read, attend school, gain employment and take care of their families.

In the same way that Chichester processes its spectacles any scrap materials from unsuitable spectacles yield some funds which in time will generate funds to help support the sorting operation and will enable us to provide financial support to vision related projects in the UK and overseas.

Your support in donating your spectacles will go a long way to play a key role in the success of this most worthwhile project.

If as a Club you are collecting spectacles please do report this activity on your MyLion account. When sending your spectacles in to HQ please do not include spectacle cases or the cleaning cloths but, incidentally, some clubs have raised a little money from selling designer cases at their events.

HQ will also take hearing aids, which are duly refurbished or stripped for parts and will subsequently benefit the most in need.

There are recycling boxes and stickers available at HQ... please talk to the team - we are all working together to ensure this wonderful service project grows from strength to strength. The work of our Club members collecting spectacles from so many outlets ensures that we are not the well kept secret that many believe us to be. Google the following question - How to recycle old glasses? Lions Clubs pop up as the answer to the question.

Lastly, on the recycling theme, HQ also collect; foreign coinage + pre-decimal British coins, plastic bottle tops, tablet blister-packs (empty) and bras! These can be slipped into a box of spectacles and itemised on the label.

We thank all our Clubs working so hard to collect spectacles , hearing aids and other items we still truly are 'Knights of the blind'.