Gravel, stony paths, tarmac, grass -- all surfaces I successfully negotiated on my five-mile walk, barefoot, to raise awareness of Syrian refugees’ urgent need for shoes.
I tackled the challenge on behalf of the Hinckley Refugee Crisis Aid Group, which sends donated items of clothing, shoes and toiletries to refugee camps in Greece, Germany, France and Syria itself.
One of the group’s organisers, Helen Monger, says: “The most common request refugees make is for shoes. There’s thick mud everywhere, and the only footwear some of them have are flip flops or completely inappropriate shoes.”
The idea of me being kept in the dark about the route was a powerful way of symbolising the uncertain fate facing the refugees. I literally had no idea of the type of terrain I’d be facing. It included roads, pavement, gravel, stony paths and grass. A number of group members and their families turned out to support me, which encouraged me to keep going.
Dozens of pairs of shoes have already been donated since the appeal was launched, and there’s still time for more, before the next delivery mission. Shoes can be dropped off at the Work Link shop on Regent Street, Hinckley.
The Crisis Aid Group works closely with the Feed The Hungry charity, and Leicester-based volunteer group LE Solidarity, to ensure donated shoes reach the refugees most in need.