Friday, 23 February 2024
Friday, 23 February 2024

A Step Forward for Lepra

For the 100-year-old UK-based charity Lepra, ‘Giving Tuesday’ – the global day of charitable giving, has become their Giving ‘Shoesday’. A day to celebrate their life-changing, custom-made protective footwear and the positive impact on the health and lives of people living with leprosy.

Lepra has been making protective footwear for over 50 years. Over this time, their customised shoes and sandals, which cost only £6 to produce, have come to mean something greater. They represent a sense of hope and a symbol of freedom from the physical, social, and psychological harms which, without their care and support could be devastating.

For a person affected by leprosy, there are many potential risks associated with putting pressure on the feet. Nerve damage can lead to numbness resulting in injuries and painful ulcers forming. Left untreated and without appropriate footwear, these ulcers can lead to long-term damage, sometimes even requiring amputation.

Any impairment of the feet, of course, also has a profound impact on the social, emotional, and economic life of the person affected. Without good mobility, people can lose their independence, income and educational opportunities, and experience extreme hardship, social isolation, and prejudice.

The first design was a sandal with a sole made from car tyres and was only available in black. When only one type of footwear was available, it was easy for people with leprosy to be identified and face prejudice and discrimination. Since then, slippers and trainers have been developed and available in a range of colours. Advances in footwear design mean that styles now mirror everyday shoes helping people with leprosy feel accepted within the community.

‘I am so happy after getting my choice of colour of footwear. I can now go to my sister’s wedding.’

‘Previously, I couldn’t walk to the market as it was too painful but since I have worn protective footwear, I can now walk a long distance without any blister/injury.’

‘With this footwear, I am attending social functions and rituals because people cannot see my deformed toes.’

Last year, Lepra’s technicians travelled around 24,000 miles and provided over 35,000 pairs of custom-made shoes to remote areas. Amazing as this is, there are many more people to reach in isolated communities.

For Lepra’s centenary year in 2024, with the integration of digital technology, they hope to produce even more efficiently designed footwear which could provide a revolution in their care.

For decades, supporters in the UK have helped Lepra develop life-changing footwear which has immeasurably improved the lives of tens of thousands of vulnerable people.

Costing only £6 to produce, the charity provides footwear entirely for free to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. So even a small donation can have a huge impact on someone’s life.

Please support Lepra’s footwear projects this November, and help turn Giving Tuesday on the 28th of November, into Giving ‘Shoesday’.

Lepra’s match-funding appeal also launches on Giving Tuesday, meaning for every £1 from you Lepra receives two. A £6 donation will be doubled to £12 which can provide a person with specialist protective footwear for an entire year, granting them independence and relief from pain.

Please visit: www.lepra.org.uk/get-involved/giving-shoesday-2023 to learn more about how you can support Lepra’s life-changing work.

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