By Andy Hirst

Homeless and vulnerable people in Huddersfield have been given free footcare by kind-hearted students.

The Mission on Lord Street in Huddersfield helps many people in dire need and asked the podiatry department at the University of Huddersfield if there was anything they could do to help.

They responded immediately with students in the third and final year of their courses setting up a clinic at the Mission.

Podiatrists treat a range of conditions including heel pain, foot complications from diabetes, ankle and foot arthritis, nerve problems, tendonitis, flat feet, nail disorders, bunions, warts, fungus, fractures and sprains.

Carol Roberts, the Mission’s community manager, added: “The students are fabulous – personable, jolly and it feels nice when they are with us. The value of this cannot be underestimated.

“We know that foot care is fairly low down on our customers’ list of priorities, but it’s something that’s fairly problematic. With their histories, many of our customers are vulnerable to leg or foot problems but podiatry was out of their reach.”

Kath Browne, support officer at the Mission, added: “These sessions mean so much to our clients and they have been an absolute success. The students have all been incredibly polite and engaging and have treated our clients with a dignity that’s wonderful to see.

“It is not an easy environment to come into and some of our clients have a lot of issues that have to be taken into account. The students have all taken in what we have told them about certain visitors before treating them and they have clearly listened because they have treated our clients with utter respect.

“One of our clients told me ‘they have treated me like I’m a paying customer.’ They have been so kind and sensitive and our visitors feel pampered and cared for.”

The sessions take place in a room next to the Mission’s popular café with Mission staff encouraging customers to pop in to see the students.

Neville Parker, senior lecturer in podiatry at the University of Huddersfield, said: “The students treat a variety of clients from the homeless to people who visit the Mission for support. There was one person who had not washed their feet for three weeks so we cared for them and padded the feet for prevention and protection.

“Other clients have been individuals with refugee status, people accessing the food bank, the kind of people who may not have the money to access this kind of treatment normally. 

“Our student panel feedback has also been good. They say it has been very humbling, eye-opening and a really good experience. They have been in a situation where they have had to work and think differently but with compassion and sensitivity as well.”

* Copyright for this story belongs to freelance journalist ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire agency AH! PR ( specialising in stories for the media, press releases, blogging, copywriting, scriptwriting and applying for awards.