Life on the streets is hard on the feet and The Salvation Army in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is partnering with other caring people to give those in need a clean pair of shoes, socks and the option of having a foot bath or visiting a volunteer podiatrist.
“People who are homeless spend large amounts of time walking or standing in lines on hard pavement,” says Kevin Hawken, Salvation Army shelter manager. “Most are outside in various weather conditions and have no place to dry their shoes or socks. Without access to foot care, good quality footwear or a change of shoes, significant foot problems can develop.”
On May 23, The Salvation Army Vancouver Harbour Light, in partnership with local Rotary Clubs, BC Podiatric Medical Association, The Vancouver Sun Run, running/footwear specialty retailers Rackets & Runners, The Right Shoe and Peninsula Runners, are providing footwear, exams and treatment to those in need.
“The Salvation Army is dedicated to the recognition of the dignity and worth of all people”
Podiatrists deal with issues such as gangrene, blisters, overgrown toenails, wounds and trench foot—a condition caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to damp, unsanitary and cold conditions.
Hawken notes that more seniors are making use of the clinics. Many struggle to afford basic living, and paying for foot care or a new pair of shoes is simply not an option. General foot care treatment and advice they receive often prevents them from developing foot problems as they age.
The foot clinics, which are held two to three times a year, distribute 500-600 pairs of shoes at each event. Partners in the event have collected gently used running/walking shoes that are cleaned and reconditioned for distribution.
“The Salvation Army is dedicated to the recognition of the dignity and worth of all people,” says Hawken. “The foot clinic is an extension of our many services already in place for individuals seeking to change the course of their lives in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.”