Shoe Aid: the UK charity eliminating shoe waste

Andy Hughes explains the challenges faced by Shoe Aid, a UK-based charity that aims to eliminate shoe waste by providing shoes to those in need.

Trench foot still exists in the UK in 2020. Four million people either have shoes that are falling apart, or no shoes at all. At least 320,000 of these people are homeless, with 2,500 sleeping on the streets.

Shoe Aid is trying to make sure no child or adult need go without shoes. We believe it is an environmental disaster and tragic waste that two million pairs of shoes go to landfill each week. Shoe Aid has supplied 10,000 pairs of shoes to people who are homeless or living in temporary accommodation in the UK. We have distributed close to one million shoes worldwide.

Shoe Aid partners with high-street brands to repurpose footwear. Many regularly donate brand new, still-boxed footwear. These include Pavers, inov-8, Russell & Bromley, Start-Rite, Rieker, Anotomic & Co, Cotswold Outdoor and Grensons. These shoes directly benefit homeless charities, people affected by disasters like flooding, and more.

Not all companies send us acceptable quality produce. Poor quality items require a lengthy process of repair that builds up our workload. Companies should not donate footwear simply to avoid directly sending products to landfill, or to appear eco and environmentally conscious. Shoe Aid is not a dumping ground for shoes.

During the pandemic, children will have grown, and there’s likely to be more poverty due to people losing jobs or being furloughed. Families will struggle to provide children with footwear as schools restart. Shoe Aid predicts an enormous surge in demand for footwear.

Donate unwanted footwear at our high-street collection points or raise funds to help cover operational costs. You can also organise shoe donation points near you.

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