'If you are in a position of poverty, dignity and choice are taken away'

When CJ Bowry was unable to find a charity to take her toddler son’s outgrown shoes in 2013, she decided to set up a one herself.

Fast forward ten years, and her initiative has donated an incredible 4 million pairs to kids in 59 countries across the globe.

Called Sal’s Shoes, the charity collects outgrown footwear and distributes them to children whose families cannot afford to buy new. It has nine branches across the UK – including in London, Salford, Crewe and Milton Keynes – in a bid to make the giving process as similar to shoe-shopping as possible.

Around 13.4 million people were living in poverty in 2020/21, according to the Joseph Rountree Foundation – of these 3.9 million were children. And kids’ feet grow fast; between the ages of five and twelve, children’s feet grow by around a centimetre a year.

‘At the beginning of the school year, my two children needed seven new pairs of shoes, and I realised that can be a source of real strain for families,’ explains CJ. ‘Often, if you are in a position of poverty, dignity and choice are taken away really quickly.

‘All of us remember shoe shopping as a child, everyone remembers their favourite pair. For a family who can’t make those choices but has the opportunity to go into a shop and choose, and try on shoes, as any other child would, that retains that sense of dignity, which is really important.’

To find out where you can donate to help fight shoe poverty, visit: Sal’s Shoes.

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