BOGS Footwear known for innovative technology in waterproof boots has this month donated 750 pairs of wellington boots to the Charity Shoe Aid. Last year Shoe Aid took delivery of 200 old, mismatched BOGS samples and paired them up for distribution to people in need. Now they have 750 more pairs to distribute to people in need.
Founded by Lee Todd back in 2004, the Charity was conceived after he watched news footage of a single shoe washing ashore after the calamitous 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. With a background in shoes, it wasn’t long before Lee developed Shoe Aid CIC in 2010.
We wanted to know a little bit more about the work that he does and where the BOGS boots were likely to be used so took some time out with Lee to find out first hand.
When we look at your website, the countries you distribute to are hot [apart from the UK!] Where do wellies come in?
Most countries that we deal with have monsoons when it absolutely pours down. Then there are disasters that call for a rubber boot. For example, after the Nepalese disaster wellies were a great help to those dealing with burst mains and sewage waters. Wellies are greatly used. In fact, all shoes are welcome. Even heels. In poor countries some women want to look and feel like a woman. Those who are victims of disaster and had heels before want them again.
Where will the BOGS boots go?
Already the Police Aid Convoy has asked us for 350 pairs of boots to be used for building homes in the villages in Ghana. They want the guys to have proper boots in Africa. We are also gathering footwear for use in an orphanage in Malawi at the moment. It’s quite reactive; we only know what’s needed when the Police Aid Convoy rings us.
Why the Police Aid Convoy?
A few reasons. They’re well established and have been going for 25 years; the’re based in Nottinghamshire like us. However mainly because there’s a lot of corruption out there and when we ask people for boots like BOGS we want them to be rest assured that the shoes they give us will end up on the feet of the people that need them. All our donations are completely free – we’re not a charity that sells shoes on markets in Africa, trying to make a profit.
BOGS also sent you single boots and different coloured pairs of boots, why?
BOGS isn’t the only company to supply us with single shoes. We work with a lady who has her own footwear factory and has around 20,000 left or right single feet samples. All of these single boots and shoes are supplied to amputees who have lost a leg for one reason or the other.
Sometimes we match up two different colours of single boots; if they are both size 8 and you have a right and left you’re all set. In the countries we work with they don’t care if the print on the sole is different or one boot is one colour and the other is another. It’s about getting shoes on feet.
What will you do with the left overs, if there are any?
We recycle, repurpose and reuse too. We have a PHD student from Loughborough University working on setting up a recycling plant in Africa. We will use the rubber soles to make tracks, flooring, insulating. We are looking to get this open and processing within the next couple of years.
Seems like you need a constant supply. How do you manage that?
Generous donations from big companies and organisations. For example, Keep Britain Tidy has just approached us in relation to Eco Schools. Eco Schools are right across the UK and encourage their students to grow their own veg, look at their energy, reduce co2 and now they have footwear on the timetable. Kids are forever growing out of their footwear and then it goes into landfill. Keep Britain Tidy wants to put Shoe Aid branded Wheelie Bins into all the Eco Schools starting from next October. They have a total of 17,800 Eco Schools!
My goodness, that’s a lot of bins to empty. How big’s your team?
We’ve got a workforce of around 15 people!
We should let you go then! Do you want to say anything else?
“Barefoot should be a choice, it shouldn’t be something that people have to put up with because of where they live or how much they earn. We are lucky here in the UK, most of us can always afford a pair of shoes. Others aren’t so lucky, it’s good to remember that.”
Shoe Aid is keen to create drop off points around the country. If you know of a retailer prepared to get involved in this please visit www.shoeaid.co.uk