Spare shoes could help protect feet from disease

Val Burt and Carol Hill from Longbenton's P&G site, both part of the Community Matter Programme.
Val Burt and Carol Hill from Longbenton's P&G site, both part of the Community Matter Programme.

EMPLOYEES at two North Tyneside branches of Procter and Gamble have donated their old shoes as part of a drive to help prevent a disease.

Hundreds of pairs of shoes have been donated by P&G employees – including those at Cobalt Business Park, Longbenton, and Seaton Delaval – to be sent to those in need.

P&G employee Paul Matts helped start the Ethiopian non-governmental organisation APA (Action on Podoconiosis Association) as part of a concerted effort to tackle the disease.

Podoconiosis is a devastating, disfiguring disease, which causes gross deformity of the lower legs and feet, with victims often ostracised from society – unable to attend school or earn a living because of their ailment.

It is a non-infectious disease that occurs when bare feet are exposed to particular soil types.

People who work barefoot in fields are vulnerable to the disease, particularly those who walk on red clay soils in volcanic areas, such as the ones found in Ethiopia.

P&G employees at its three north east sites have cleared out cupboards and collected more than 300 pairs of shoes, from Caterpillar walking boots to Converse trainers.

Val Burt, from the company’s Community Matters Programme, said: “We have filled a room full of shoes that employees have brought in.

“It’s humbling to think that a spare pair of shoes, which means nothing to us, will save these people’s lives.

“Projects like these make me feel like our Community Matters Programme has a real impact.”

P&G employees from the north east offices as well as colleagues based in south east England, have collected 1,000 pairs of shoes in total.

One large shipment of these will be sent to the upland regions of Southern Ethiopia where they will be distributed from the six new APA treatment sites and used to protect bare feet vulnerable to Podoconiosis.

Visit for more information about the disease.