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If you were imagining a list of community priorities, ‘shoe poverty’ may not occur to you. But with four million children in the UK often wearing shoes that don’t fit properly or aren’t suitable for their needs, ‘shoe poverty’ is a real problem. Jo Dolby, Hub leader in Bath, decided to do something about it this summer.
She came up with a simple solution: gather the community to donate shoes in good condition and redistribute them. It means the shoes don’t end up in a landfill – and struggling families don’t have to foot (pun intended) the bill of buying school shoes for growing kids.
“The project was in response to a need which emerged during conversations with some of the families we work with at our holiday hunger project,” says Jo.
The Hub partnered with local schools, places of worship and community groups as well as the local media. They put out a call for donations of good quality second-hand or new school shoes to redistribute to families in need. The response was amazing – and the impact on families has been dramatic.
“One mum found shoes for three of her children, potentially giving her a saving of £100, which is a huge amount of money. That makes a very real difference when finances are tight.”
Jo adds: “Providing shoes is another way to alleviate some of the pressures poverty can bring. As a Hub we’re also really passionate about responding to the climate change crisis, and saving shoes from landfill is an important part of this.”
Like many projects pioneered by Hub leaders to creatively support their communities, the ‘School Shoe Shop Project’ is a case of people in the community helping their neighbours. The often black-and-white lines between service provider and beneficiary need not apply.
Bath is one of the newest Oasis Hubs. Find out more at oasisbath.org.