A team of kind-hearted podiatrists from Queen Margaret University will give up three days over the Christmas holidays to run a foot care clinic for homeless people in Edinburgh.
When Christmas celebrations are in full swing in households across the capital, podiatry lecturer Evelyn Weir and her students will be offering a specialist podiatry service for individuals who live on the streets.
The team of Queen Margaret University podiatrists will be volunteering with the ‘Crisis at Christmas’ project run by the charity Crisis which helps single homeless people.
Evelyn Weir, who is a long term volunteer with the homeless has been running this clinic for three years. She, and her dedicated team of 14 podiatry students, are looking forward to working with other Crisis volunteers to run an extended service for homeless people on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time of year for a person cut off from family and home. The ‘Crisis at Christmas’ project provides companionship and support to tackle loneliness and isolation, and helps people take their first steps out of homelessness. As well as offering some much needed foot care over the winter months, the Crisis events will provide homeless people with services such as hairdressing and massage, as well as breakfast, a hot Christmas meal, and supper on each day.
For over twenty years, Evelyn Weir, Lead for Interprofessional Education and Lecturer in Podiatry at Queen Margaret University, has dedicated much of her spare time to helping the homeless with foot care. She is delighted that, every year, an increasing number of students volunteer to support her work with Crisis at Christmas. In addition to the podiatry clinic, for the first time, the QMU team will also include a physiotherapy service.
Evelyn explained: “People who are homeless tend to have specific foot health problems. Many walk for miles every day but don’t have access to foot health care or good quality footwear, and may not have a change of shoes. Also, most people are out in all weathers, they spend large amounts of time standing on hard pavements, and often they have no place to dry shoes or socks. These difficulties can lead to quite significant foot problems.”
Evelyn said: “Students from previous years have really valued the experience of working with the project and have been enthusiastic about taking part again.
“The service that we provide is enhanced by the top quality medical supplies and instruments which are generously donated by our three key sponsors – Algeos, C&P Medical and Queen Margaret University. Altogether, thousands of pounds worth of equipment and clinical supplies are provided for the sessions. Without this, we could not offer such a high quality service. This year, many of the podiatry students have donated new socks – approximately 300 pairs – which will be given to every guest who attends Crisis at Christmas.
Dr Fiona Coutts, Dean of Health Sciences at Queen Margaret University, said: “Social justice is at the heart of QMU’s work and by encouraging students to support this important project tthe University continues to make a positive impact on the quality of people’s lives.”
She concluded: “In addition to the social impact, the experience of working within a multidisciplinary team builds students’ clinical and interpersonal skills. We are therefore delighted to continue playing a supporting role in this much needed service.”