Why we share a pair – or thousands, to be exact

From day one, we have believed that doing something good each day should be as ingrained in your routine as pulling up your socks each morning. Our Share a Pair charity initiative is central to this. With every order, we donate a pair of socks to charities where socks are a basic, transformative item. A little thing, but a big difference.

Our socks go to three charities, where socks have real power to improve the lives – even a little – of those in need. Choose Love, works with refugees. Crisis supports the homeless. And Foot Works offers vital podiatry services to homeless people.

With every LSC purchase, you are helping support these wonderful initiatives. You are helping to make a difference. Especially this year. The global pandemic has had a huge impact on everyone’s lives, but especially those who are homeless and displaced. We spoke to Choose Love, Crisis and Foot Works to find out more about their work, how they’ve been affected by COVID, and what difference something little like socks can really make.

Choose Love

Can you tell us a bit about Choose Love?

Choose Love was born from a movement that shows that we don’t have to stand by and watch in the face of apathy and injustice. We can act. Founded in 2015 in response to the humanitarian emergency in Calais, northern France, we now support over 120 grassroots projects in Europe, the UK, the Middle East and on the US-Mexico Border. We exist to supercharge the work of people acting with love, solidarity and community – doing whatever it takes to meet the real needs of refugees and displaced people. Filling the gaps where larger NGOs and governments can’t or won’t act, they support everything from lifesaving search and rescue boats, to food provision, legal support and safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ refugees and unaccompanied children. They amplify the voices of the people they work with, fighting racist policies and working towards a world in which all people are valued and welcome.

refugee girl in Greece smiling with gloves for Choose Love

How has Covid 19 impacted your operations and the lives of the people your charity supports?

In March 2020, just like lots of people, our team had to figure out what we need to do to continue to do our work. Our partners on the ground responded quickly and efficiently. Refugee camps are so crowded that there’s no possibility for self-isolation and there are very few taps and showers so our main focuses are around prevention – our first response was to fund huge amounts of soap, sanisiter and PPE. We also had to prepare for the worst, by funding medical facilities, doctors, nurses, equipment and medicines.

How can a little thing like socks make a big difference to the people that your charity supports?

Many camps are still under COVID-19 lockdown, so they are unable to access education and community spaces and are stuck in overcrowded makeshift structures and tents, sometimes for 24 hours a day, in freezing cold temperatures. Our partners distribute thousands of pairs of socks alongside other warm winter clothing to ensure that basic needs are met in an ever changing context.

Why is support more important than ever?

Alongside the huge changes that have taken place this year, including mitigating risks associated with COVID-19, the fire on Lesvos and natural disasters on Samos, the daily grinding reality of living in a camp cannot be paused. Babies still need diapers, pregnant women still need nutritious food and families sleeping in tents still need sleeping bags and warm winter clothing – including socks – to keep warm. Your support this winter will mean we can get socks to the places and people that need them most.

Crisis

Can you tell us a bit about Crisis?

Crisis is the national charity for homelessness. We work directly with thousands of people facing homelessness across the UK every year. Our mission is to help people rebuild their lives and end their homelessness for good. Every Christmas, we open centres to offer people warmth, companionship and access to vital services such as healthcare and advice at one of the most difficult times of year.

How has Covid-19 impacted your operations and the lives of the people your charity supports?

People who are homeless are some of the most exposed and at risk from coronavirus. They are three times more likely than the average person to experience a chronic health condition and, due to their often precarious living situations, it can be very difficult for them to shield or self-isolate. We have been working hard throughout the pandemic to provide people who are currently being given temporary accommodation in hotels with clean and comfortable clothing, food parcels, personal hygiene items and fun activities. We will be doing the same over Christmas, as well as putting together wellbeing packs for the many people around the country who have been severely affected by the pandemic.

Crisis charity team with socks for the homeless at Christmas

How can a little thing like socks make a big difference to the guests that your charity looks after?

It’s hard to overestimate what an impact seemingly little things like new socks can have to someone experiencing homelessness, especially for those sleeping rough in the cold. Feeling clean, comfortable and cosy makes such a positive difference to a person’s confidence and mindset. Looking after these basic needs such as food and clothing means our guests have the headspace to engage with the other services we offer such as housing advice and healthcare, beginning their journey out of homelessness. Thanks to the generosity of London Sock Company’s customers, in the two weeks over Christmas, we will give out a whopping 4000 pairs of socks to our guests! We also go through many thousands more pairs throughout the year which are distributed to our members through our London Skylight centres.

What would you like to say to our customers/ readers about the importance of their support and making sure the guests your charity supports have all the necessities that they need daily.

We have all been deeply impacted by the current pandemic, but it’s wonderful to feel that even in difficult times, London Sock Company’s customers are still able to support people in some of the most vulnerable circumstances across our society. Clean clothing gives people experiencing homelessness dignity and self-confidence. What might feel like a small donation to you can make a huge difference to our guests, so thank you.

Foot Works

Can you tell us a bit about your charity Foot Works?

Foot Works provides free podiatry consultations to the homeless through a dedicated team of volunteer qualified podiatrists, offering the same level of care provided by regular private and outpatient podiatry clinics. Foot Works can also provide patients with a pathway to local mainstream NHS services when necessary. Through the generous support of our partners we can also provide brand new high-quality shoes and socks when needed.

How has Covid-19 impacted your operations and the lives of the people your charity supports?

Unfortunately, we have had to suspend the Foot Works activities due to the current situation. There are strict health and safety protocols in place in the centres we operate in, and we want to ensure the protection of our guests and volunteers. We are closely following the advice provided by the NHS and Homeless Centre Providers, and we are ready to respond as soon as we can restart our activities.

How can a little thing like socks make a big difference to the guests that your charity supports?

Each patient who visits our service gets a fresh pair of socks, and across our various locations we distribute around 250 pairs per month. Homeless people do have some access to – typically second-hand – clothing though the great work of individuals and charities supporting the homeless community. However access to clean underwear and socks is very limited.. Organisations are reluctant to collect and distribute pre-worn socks and underpants. Socks are a particular concern. Damp and dirty socks are infrequently changed since basic hygiene is a challenge. Damp feet are  likely to increase the prevalence of bacterial infection, macerated feet and other foot health conditions and discomfort.

How important is continued support for Foot Works?

Homelessness is a societal issue, and your support in recognising this is invaluable and truly appreciated. It is key to acknowledge that our guests have health issues just like everyone else, and in the current situation ensuring that they have access to warm socks is more important than ever.

This month we are doubling our donations and will be giving two pairs to charity with every order. Check out our page here for more information about our Share a Pair initiative. 

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