1206. Richard Cooper
Richard Cooper, from London, is the founder of ‘Foot Works’ which provides specialist podiatry services and new shoes to homeless people across London.
Through volunteer work with ‘Crisis UK’, Richard realised that homeless people often suffer from severe podiatry issues as they walk miles each day to access services and are often unable to dry and heal their feet once exposed to bad weather. ‘Foot Works’ coordinates a group of volunteer podiatrists who offer regular podiatry services at drop in centres. Richard has also managed to generate donations of brand new high-quality shoes and socks from partner organisations and, in its first two years of operation, ‘Foot Works’ had provided hundreds of pairs of new leather shoes to the homeless, as well as treating over 800 patients.
In a personal letter to Richard, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“Through ‘Foot Works’ you are giving not only vital healthcare but also dignity to the homeless people you help. The group of volunteers you coordinate is improving the lives of hundreds of homeless people and I wish you well as you continue your work.”
“This Award is warmly received and is a huge privilege, and I dedicate this to all my Foot Works colleagues, Alan, Ann, Jo, Kristina, Ruth, Steve, Sophie and Yaw. Without their tireless support and generosity the project wouldn’t have or continue to be possible, thank you to them.
“Foot Works started as a humble project with me knowing I could and can do more to support those that are sadly marginalised in our society. Through years of working on the ‘Crisis at ChristmasProject’ I realised that health for the homeless community was a number one need. It’s the reality that in London alone thousands of people will sleep rough each year, and these only the recorded cases, the situation being mirrored in a number of other major cities across the United Kingdom. I have identified through volunteering in the homeless sector for over a decade, how regularly homeless clients request and need foot care and good footwear, shoes that aren’t someone else’s used donation. Homeless people in particular walk miles in a single day accessing the network of support organisations and services across the Regional Capitals to get basic refreshments, food, a safe place to sleep and to experience the basic humanity of people who want to help.
“Foot Works is now is entering its 3rd year, approaching 1,000 patients seen to date. Through two 3 hour podiatry clinics per week, it works in collaboration with multiple agencies and day centres providing the service. I also know more can be done to improve the lives and health of the minority groups in our society who often get overlooked, not deliberately but because the solution is often complex.
“Foot Works volunteers never cease to amaze me with their professionalism and commitment. It reinforces and demonstrates the difference volunteers of any age can make in their communities, especially when it comes to helping those more vulnerable and who just need a little support to survive.
“For me it is about doing what is right, being empowered and empowering others to help and support fellow citizens in society, by connecting the small dots that often get overlooked by procedural barriers, and yes, it has made a profound difference on my outlook on society and I know the same for the volunteers I am privileged to work alongside. I hope at Foot Works we set an example that others can follow, and thank you again, Points of Light, for this humbling award.”