Forgotten Feet, originally set up in 2013 by podiatrist Deborah Monk in Worcester, is a rapidly expanding nationwide project extending across England and into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There are now many towns covered by the free Forgotten Feet foot care service run by volunteer podiatrists, assisted often by foot health practitioners.
Our vision is to set up clinics across the UK in areas identified as being in need in order to develop a national Forgotten Feet network to help the homeless and socially deprived. To this end, the project has been publicised in ‘Podiatry Now’ and elsewhere to encourage other podiatrists & foot health practitioners to step forward and help set up clinics & work together as part of a countrywide team.
How This Works
Setting up clinics in homeless centres means that users of the service are more likely to take up treatment, rather than if they had to travel elsewhere.
Clinics are run at regular intervals, approximately every 6 weeks, or whenever a podiatrist can fit them in with the rest of their workload.
All that is required to make this possible is the use of a small room with a couple of chairs and a table.
Primarily, Forgotten Feet aims to serve the homeless population and alleviate painful foot conditions.
However, we have an open door policy whereby anyone entitled to use the centre may have free treatment; this includes socially isolated and vulnerable people. All treatment is of course confidential and appropriate records are kept.
What to Expect
Some people simply want to talk and offload emotional burden. Often people have some very harrowing tales, but we are there to listen never to judge. Many clients passing through towns may use the service once, others who are staying in the area may be seen again.
Often, clients are very nervous, fearful or distrusting of anyone in authority so putting them at ease and gaining trust is key. Getting any sort of information other than name and date of birth can be challenging. Medical histories are often vague, and some people may be in a high risk category, so extra caution must always be taken with sharps to protect the client and practitioner. The types of treatment and problems can vary tremendously from week to week, with some clients having very extreme conditions whilst others have quite reasonable feet.
Homeless people needless to say, are on their feet in all weathers, rarely removing shoes and socks. Problems commonly encountered include blisters, calluses, long and onychomycotic nails, fungal skin infections and very often pitting keratolysis due to prolonged wet conditions as well as wounds. Anyone with any sort of infection is referred to a local GP for medication or creams.
Rain, in particular, affects homeless people long after it stops, as there is nowhere for them to dry shoes and socks, and thus wet footwear stays on resulting in macerated foot conditions – as seen to the right – which are are often infected and malodourous.
We urgently appeal for donations of podiatry supplies & new socks.
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