Recycling local legs in Plymouth to support those with limb differences in sub-Saharan Africa
Since 2016 The Thornberry Centre in Plymouth has been working alongside UK registered charity Legs4Africa to put unwanted prosthetic legs to good use. In the UK, approximately 5,000 prosthetic legs end up in landfills every year. Meanwhile, in Africa, 1.7 million amputees are in need of a limb to help them live independent lives. Thanks to this unique partnership between The Thornberry Centre and Legs4Africa, these statistics are starting to positively change.
The Thornberry Centre has donated hundreds of prosthetic legs to Legs4Africa since the partnership began. These legs have then made their way to their forever homes across eight sub-Saharan African countries, including The Gambia.
Once there, the prosthetic leg parts are fixed, adapted and fitted to amputees who otherwise may never walk again. In many of these countries, a new leg built from imported parts costs upwards of £800, making them unaffordable for the majority of people. But by utilising parts that would otherwise be classed as medical waste, Legs4Africa is helping to get people like Joe back on their feet.
Joe, who received a leg from Legs4Africa said:
“I broke my leg falling out of a tree, and in the end, I had to have it amputated. Thankfully I have a prosthetic now which was made from parts donated by Legs4Africa. This means I can continue with my career as a fashion designer. I have great plans for the future, I want to expand my business so I can eventually support my family.”
For the incredible team at The Thornberry Centre, this partnership also provides them with an opportunity to do their bit for the environment while supporting amputation patients in countries further afield.
Emma Perkins, Prosthetic Deputy Workshop Manager said:
“We have very much enjoyed supporting Legs4Africa over the years by providing unusable prostheses (manufactured mechanical limbs) and components that would otherwise need to be disposed of. Legs4Africa does an amazing job collecting and repairing prostheses to allow others the life changing opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to have. We are very proud of the work we do with Legs4Africa. We embrace the charity and all they have achieved and will continue to support the work they endeavour to do.”
This autumn, The Thornberry Centre is helping Legs4Africa to promote their latest fundraising campaign, aptly named Leg Up which has so far raised £13,588. This match funded campaign, which runs until Christmas Eve, aims to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people with limb loss, while generating funding that will allow Legs4Africa to continue utilising The Thornberry Centre’s kind donations for the next two years. The vital services offered by Legs4Africa consist of providing support and prosthetic leg parts for the only mobility centre in The Gambia, community outreach and offering emotional support like counselling sessions through rehabilitation services.
To donate to the Leg Up campaign please visit www.legs4africa.org/legup. You can also follow the campaign on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – @Legs4Africa.
For media enquiries please contact Sam on [email protected].
Notes to editor
Legs4Africa is a registered charity (charity number 1158697) based in Bristol in the UK. The charity was founded in 2013 by Tom Williams after his trip to The Gambia. Tom was introduced to a gentleman who needed a prosthetic leg urgently, and his search began. Once back in the UK, Tom was able to successfully source a leg for Paul. In the process, he discovered that access to affordable prosthetic legs was a problem faced by over a million people with limb differences on the African continent.
Since then, Legs4Africa has sent enough prosthetic leg parts to build or repair over 9,500 limbs – working with hospitals in the UK, the USA, Canada, France and Australia, with further opportunities arising across Europe. The charity collects used prosthetic legs, which under current European Union law, cannot be re-used in the United Kingdom.
The prosthetic legs are then shipped to African countries such as The Gambia, Ghana and Uganda, where they can be modified for, and used by people with limb differences. Alongside this recycling programme, Legs4Africa works closely with in-country partners to improve services, create opportunities and ensure amputees have everything they need in order to live independent lives.
The Thornberry Centre
Based in Plymouth, the Thornberry Centre provides a prosthetic service to both Devon and Cornwall, manufacturing bespoke prosthesis for patients of all ages and walks of life. The specialist multi-disciplinary team works hard to create an environment in which people can work towards their individual goals and achieve success