Anthony Lewis, CEO of Footscape, explains how an unexpected storm threatened the viability of Footscape, and became cause to reflect on the charity’s path to date.
In Footscape’s most recent STRIDE article last year, I was excited to share some good news. We had achieved a monthly distribution record for footwear, socks and foot care kits and it truly felt like Footscape had begun lifting the roof off of our Material Aid Project.
An unexpected storm
Yet Mother Nature had other plans in mind. Following a wild overnight storm, I arrived at the hall (which is home to this project), only to discover that a massive neighbouring tree was now uprooted and lying over the hall’s roof.
It seemed like just when the Australian community began to re-open from COVID-related lockdowns, Footscape’s setup sadly became inaccessible.
The hall is a good 60-years old and it has struggled across its lifetime to disguise inevitable wear and tear. This latest damage presented an unwelcome barrier between the realisation of our goals and ensuring a consistently safe working environment for our teams.
Reflecting on the past
This setback gave me cause to reflect on how far we have come since the days of 2018, when the spare bedroom of my home was used to store and process Footscape’s material aid donations. It was a constrictive setup, though one I was prepared to accommodate since I was living alone at the time.
I vividly remember when we finally began a rental agreement with a nearby church to use their vacant hall, which has since served as our working space. It changed everything. Yet now we were in danger of losing this, thanks to the storm which had caused so much damage.
Up until the end of January this year, we remained worried that there weren’t many other storage and workplace options if the hall damage remained. I knew that home storage was no longer an option, following the start of my happy marriage and the arrival of our second child last November! Commercial rental spaces were (and still are…) frighteningly expensive for our small charity.
A new chapter
I’m pleased to report that we can once again access the hall space. Phew. This experience has been a lesson in how interdependent we are as a charity on the goodwill and support of others to help realise our vision.
It’s a huge relief, to be honest. Especially since demand for material aid items across the public podiatry sector (from affiliates and other welfare organisations) has increased since Christmas. I anticipate that February’s numbers of distributed material aid items may rival those record figures that I shared with STRIDE readers late last year!
Join our movement
So, what can you do to be part of this supportive ecosystem? There are a few things. Firstly, please contact Footscape via the form here. And if you live in Melbourne, then please keep an eye out for any working bees, which we’re keen to start up again soon.
If you volunteer for a working bee, you can enjoy our relaxing hall environment and meet friends whilst supporting people who experience disadvantage and have a range of foot pathology presentations that need attention.
Lastly, supporters from around Australia can make a tax-deductible donation via our website to enable more foot care kit materials to be purchased.
Thanks as always to our STRIDE readers for your support. Whether it is simply reading this article to stay updated, or supporting in a range of other ways – it is all appreciated.