Michael Hooper Podiatrist's Choice to Help the Homeless

Written by: Michael Hooper, Podiatrist

My interest in the workings of the human foot was sparked from an early age when playing sport at school; I suffered from a painful ingrown toenail, which resulted in a Podiatrist carrying out a procedure to remove and permanently resolve the issue. I was keen to understand what had happened and why I couldn't feel what the therapist was doing (local anaesthetic!), that afterwards I went home and googled the procedure online. A little older, and I suffered a second injury playing National league basketball for Birmingham, this time to my shin which resulted in another visit to a local Podiatrist. It were these early experiences that opened my eye to the range of treatments a Podiatrist can offer and how they helped to give almost instant pain relief; which pushed me to follow the same career path.

After completing my training at Southampton University, I worked for the NHS for several years, managing a diabetic and foot risk service. After leaving the NHS I went on to lecture for the UKs largest orthotic manufacturer and back into private practice in 2013.

During my time in private practice, I started to link up with Crisis at Christmas, who provide London and the UK's homeless with somewhere to stay over the Christmas period, with access to a range of health services during their stay; one of which being footcare. This set up gives people access to health professionals for advice and treatments for any issues they may be having, that they may not normally have access to.

After helping people, who are less fortunate then my usual clientele, I explored how I could help on a more regular basis other than just at Christmas. I felt that the charity should continue all year round and not just at Christmas. This led me to Forgotten Feet, a foot care charity which goes to homeless shelters to provide treatment to the guests staying there. All the services are carried out by volunteer podiatrists. I contacted the charity and discovered they were particularly short on volunteers in central London, resulting in the charity asking me to coordinate the care for London homeless shelters. We currently have services set up in Walthamstow (Branches shelter) and we are working on setting up in Canning Town and Poplar. The healthcare team attend the locations on a bi-monthly basis treating the feet of the guests staying in the shelters, helping to make life a little easier. This can be a range of different conditions from diabetic issues, to corns, callus and problematic nails. 

With all charity work there are certain things that would enhance the service we can offer. One of the main things for the people we treat is providing clean socks and new shoes/trainers. The White hart Clinic will be carrying out a collection from now until the next clinic on the 24th September. If you have any good quality trainers/walking boots for adults, please donate them. There will be a donation box in the White Hart Clinic reception. 


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