It’s National Feet Week (8th – 14th March) which seems as good an opportunity as any to talk about the feet of someone experiencing homelessness! This is something that in general probably does not get too much consideration.
At St Petrocs, for the last 7 years, podiatrist Adam Drouet has run a monthly podiatry clinic at the resource centre in Truro. The clinic has very good links with the Health for Homeless practice nurse and GPs which also operate from the resource centres and this multi-agency work enables vital (two-way) support that benefits the clients.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic the monthly service at St Petrocs hasn’t been able to run since the first lockdown began in March 2020, however we are hopeful this will be able to re-start again as Covid restrictions ease.
Those experiencing homelessness can find it very difficult to keep timed appointments and deal with formal referral systems to other services. It is therefore very important to offer a drop-in service where homeless people are normally gathering, as at the Truro resource centre, to access advice, food and other services.
Most clients make great efforts to look after their feet and recognize how important good foot health is. People experiencing street homelessness are hugely dependent on their feet and experience a high incidence of foot problems, as well as the foot problems one would expect to see in a comparable housed population, compounded by cold and wet conditions, poor footwear, many hours spent on their feet and poor physical health.
Conditions specifically associated with homelessness are frequently seen. These include immersion (or ‘trench’) foot, musculoskeletal strains and injuries, stress fractures, fungal and bacterial infections, blisters, abrasions and other trauma, thermal injury from severe chilling, and foreign bodies embedded in the feet. Alcohol and substance misuse can also contribute to neglect and injury, and other problems such as nerve damage which is more commonly associated with diabetes.
Access to and provision of footwear is absolutely essential to help foot problems – often the main / only thing that can be done to help. Adam’s clients at his practice have generously donated hundreds of pairs of shoes and socks over the years.
We are always in need of good condition weather-proof, sturdy shoes, boots, trainers etc and summer and winter socks. However, currently as we continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic we are restricting visitors to our resource centres during this time and are not currently accepting physical donations in order to protect our clients and staff as COVID-19 continues, however there are essential items available to donate by purchasing them on our Amazon Wishlist.