A great team run the centre on a day to day basis, cooking meals, offering internet access and advice on a vast array of problems.Many of the service users have multiple complex issues, may have drug or alcohol abuse problems, health problems, mental health issues and some criminal convictions; some people find themselves homeless through no fault of their own but all are treated with dignity and respect. Often ostracised from society these people may have nowhere else to turn to other than places like Maggs, who are supportive and offer constructive advice.
Most patients/clients lead fairly chaotic lives and are often in pain or discomfort. In order to reach this particular client group it is key to have this treatment at a point where it is easily accessible, i.e. at the drop in centre.
By setting up in a homeless centre, service users are more likely to take up treatment rather than travel to a clinic. Visits are made approximately every 6 weeks on a Thursday morning, when use is made use of a small room with a couple of chairs and a desk to provide treatment. There is an open door policy whereby anyone who uses the centre may have free treatment, which is of course confidential. Some people simply want to talk and offload an emotional burden; some very harrowing tales are often heard, but we are there to listen, never judge.
Many clients passing through the town may use the service once; others who are staying in the area may be seen again. The types of treatment and problems seen vary tremendously from week to week, sometimes very extreme, conditions that a private practitioner would probably not encounter, whilst others have quite reasonable feet. Homeless people needless to say, are on their feet in all weathers, rarely removing shoes and socks.
Many people enter the room barefooted and are embarrassed about their shoes and socks, some will have attempted to clean their feet, others not! Footwear is often ill fitting as clients have access to a clothing bank and will wear whatever is there. For others shoes are literally falling apart.
One client had such ill-fitting trainers, far too small, and consequently was in agony due to lesions on both heels exposing the Achilles tendon.
For this person, knowing she probably wouldn’t be seen again, her heavily soiled socks were discarded and replaced with new ones, her wounds were cleaned and dressed, and she was told not put her trainers back on as they were but to tread the backs down, slip her forefoot in and go to the clothing bank for different footwear.
Another client had just walked all the way back from Devon following a relationship breakup.
He had left with nothing other than the clothes he stood in, and his feet were badly blistered, swollen and sore.
New socks, dressings and replacement insoles in his boots made a massive difference!