by Laura West, Secretary Society of Shoe Fitters.
It was our second year of running a national initiative on a proverbial shoe string…but it certainly opened doors and illuminated dark corners in terms of working with health professionals, as our President mentioned earlier. Not only did the College of Podiatry (which is how the Society of Chiropodists & Podiatrists wishes to promote themselves to the public now) endorse our campaign, but they also sent out over 11,100 posters to their membership – and many of those posters will stay up for some time to come.
In actual fact we have been quoting for the past couple of years that there are over 11,000 Podiatrists in the U.K. but there are actually more than 20,000 if you include those working in the N.H.S. – quite staggering eh? How many clients does that amount to? A really great spin off was hearing from those that were pro-active and wanted to know more about fitting, we now have a mailing list of Podiatrists who are interested in taking our new course.
Now it is not often I have a moan at you all because our members are far too amazing to moan at….but it has been somewhat embarrassing that I am telling everyone how successful and brilliant National Shoe Fitting Week was, but have very little to prove it! Obviously a good number of IFRA members and CFHR subscribers took part and would not think to contact us after, but SSF members are usually good at getting in touch. There was certainly a considerable amount of work involved, and the trade press worked tirelessly behind the scenes using their contacts with national media do pick up on stories (although once again not much national coverage), but too few of you have written in with pictures etc.
The whole project has been based on networking because we cannot afford to pay an Advertising Agency or P.R. Consultant. We are reliant on one another – every member, shop, Associate Member to each do their bit and get the message out there, but it’s worrying (but lovely) when we get calls saying ‘thanks’ that was really good, it really helped’ but here in the office we have nothing to show! It’s not too late; as Footwear Today will run with the stories and I am sure Out on A Limb would still do something too. Next year can you take some photos of your shops and promotions and send them in straight after? We might be able to get some grant funding to do something even bigger.
As Bruce Forsyth would say: YOU ALL DID VERY WELL and without doubt this event can only get bigger and bigger with ‘high viz’ people like Clinkard’s, Brantano and similar onboard. They may not employ Qualified Shoe Fitters, but the extra promotion will definitely rebound to benefit YOU – our members! We have already had a lovely email from Jenni Summers – PR for Hotter promising more help next year… It would be great if Clark’s made something of this too.
Thank you to everyone who sent something and supported the initiative in any way – here are a just a few:
“Hello…After having read your article in the Podiatry Now I am emailing to find out how I can help you promote the shoe fitting week coming up in April? I am happy to display posters here at my clinic base in Featherstone Health Centre and I will be stressing that my colleagues in the NHS Podiatry Department here join in, whilst as ever I will be fighting the shoe battle with my patients. I look forward to your reply and helping were I can.”Kind Regards. Sharon Walford, Podiatrist, Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
North Shoes Peterborough had an NHS chiropodist in store all day on the Thursday of Keep Feet Fit week and displayed posters in the windows. “We had a good response and Radio Cambridge came to see what was going on too. Feedback from that has led to doing talks to some special needs groups” said Rosemary Gray – Manager.
“Many thanks for your continued support! I have many ideas for NSFW and have my posters up throughout the shop. My timing this year hasn’t been great, below is a link to a piece in our local paper on our opening. Had we opened earlier I would have followed up with a foot health editorial- tucked that away for next year! I have introduced the Society on my FB (see below) and will be making a big song and dance when I finally finish my course and am a fully paid up member.
“Despite being a bit behind the times here the feedback that I am getting from parents is that they really do care about theirs kids foot health (granny’s are great too, been digging deep into their pockets!), and they are happy to have an alternative to the High Street. Fingers crossed I can meet their expectations”. Louise, Tree Top Shoes.
Written by Laura West, SSF Secretary. For more information about Qualified Shoe Fitters, Independent Retailers and National Shoe Fitting Week go online: www.shoefitters-uk.org