IMPORTANT: Society of Shoe Fitters – Please support our PETITION – Petition link: http://chng.it/c5xc9WWk

This petition link: http://chng.it/c5xc9WWk  is to plead that Boris announces Qualified Shoe Fitters and Members of the Society of Shoe Fitters and Children’s Foot Health Register be allowed to trade during lockdown. We provide a service that supports our healthcare service for both children and adults. We should therefore be considered a crucial and not a non-essential service. Please read our plea…

Worryingly to our public, the footwear industry has lost numerous professional shoe shops this year alone. Shops are hanging by a shoestring (every pun intended) due to supermarkets selling cheaply made footwear and online sales, but now the doors are banging shut on shops that have been around numerous generations – excellent quality, with professional fitters that put shoe fitting and personal service above fashion.

Ill-fitting footwear affects our physiology and has a knock-on effect for our whole bodies, so children in particular should be measured and fitted professionally and regularly. For someone living with diabetes for example, this is even more important for both adults and children. A blister can lead to an ulcer, an ulcer can become infected and this can lead to amputation – costing the NHS millions. There are no records for statistics regarding the number of back, knee and hip problems/operations there are, or the cost of medication/GP hours/surgery/treatment paid for by the NHS (although we know that approx. 170 diabetes sufferers have an amputation annually) many of which would not have occurred if people had been informed by government that shoe fitting is a vital (and free) service for all. The importance of specialist shoe shops was pointed out in the 70’s Munro Report, but subsequently and worryingly ignored.

Chiropodists/Podiatrists are allowed to open during this lockdown, so Qualified Shoe Fitters i.e. members of the Society of Shoe Fitters and the Children’s Foot Health Register, should also be allowed to open too given we often see referrals from clinics. This should be for no other shoe shop, just those offering a professional safe measuring and fitting service and Registered under The Society of Shoe Fitters and The Children’s Foot Health Register. As you know as a charity we help the public with their enquiries and so many young parents during the first lockdown were worried that their child needed footwear (sometimes for the first time) and they had no idea where to go or what to do, but just knew it was important to get it right. Now with the colder weather children will need boots and good socks to keep feet warm, safe and dry, but thick socks in wrongly sized shoes or boots is a recipe for disaster.

There are some brands offering gauges and online sales and goodness knows the damage this has caused as parents do not recognise if their child has a high instep, pronation, supination, low ankle bone etc. or developing claw toes, hallux valgus, plantar fasciitis etc. They only realise when it is too late and the irreparable damage is done. Unfortunately, our public may be led to believe the numbers on a measure is automatically the size they need but the measure is merely the starting point.

Our members are trained to recognise foot health issues, give best advice and do their best to save the NHS a fortune, this higher level of knowledge from our Qualified Shoe Fitters is often why specialist podiatry and chiropody services refer patients over. We are deemed the industry gold standard in fitting and a break in fittings checks for those vulnerable in health, both old and young is impacting our nations foot health. It’s about time the government took the health concerns we see daily and pressure we feel seriously. Our public are our concern, please may it be yours too.

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LAURA WEST F.S.S.F.

On behalf of the Trustees and Council of:

THE SOCIETY OF SHOE FITTERS

(Registered Charity No. 1178413)