Two men and van full of shoes
Image by Shoe Aid

Finding new homes for used shoes and stepping into STEPTEMBER

Today we hear from Andy Hughes. Andy is chairman of charity, Shoe Aid, which addresses shoe poverty in the UK. He’s been part of Shoe Aid for four years and has been instrumental in turning it into the largest footwear-only charity in the UK. Read on to discover Shoe Aid is making a difference by finding new homes for used shoes.

There is a place where tens of thousands of men, women, and children either have no shoes at all, or have shoes that are falling to pieces. That place is the UK. Shoe Aid is dedicated to addressing footwear poverty and positively impacting the environment. Want to help? Consider joining us in STEPTEMBER. It’s easy! Just wear odd shoes or go barefoot with us.

The Problem is Serious

Over two million shoes end up on landfill every week. And an average pair of shoes made from synthetic textiles and additives takes upwards of 1,000 years to biodegrade. That’s why we’ve educated pupils in more than 100 schools on the importance of recycling and repurposing footwear.

At the same time, we’ve distributed tens of thousands of shoes to over 15 countries around the world. In this way, Shoe Aid is helping shoe manufacturers and distributors avoid environmental disaster.

Shoe Aid works with high street brands, manufacturers and wholesalers to repurpose seconds, returns, end-of-line shoes and sample footwear. On receiving the items, we check, clean and store the shoes, ready for re-distribution.

But though dedicated to saving shoes from landfill, Shoe Aid is not a dumping ground for shoes. On the contrary, we only take shoes that are ‘fit for purpose’. And while some of the shoes we pass on are second-hand, many others are brand new.

Brands and retailers regularly donating brand new and still-boxed items include Pavers, inov-8, Russell & Bromley, Start-Rite, Rieker and Anatomic & Co. And our beneficiaries range from homeless charities and those in education and rehabilitation centres to people affected by natural disasters.

Finding new homes for used shoes

We want manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers to see Shoe Aid as a medium for reducing shoe waste, positively impacting the environment and helping change lives. Finding homes for used shoes is what we do best.

So how does it work? We start by approaching other charities and community organisations, providing lists of needs and shoes available. And when necessary, we can even supply one person with a full range of footwear items. These may include formal shoes, everyday shoes, trainers, outdoor shoes, Wellingtons, and even steel toe capped boots.


We have decided to step into STEPTEMBER with odd shoes on our feet to raise awareness of footwear poverty and educate the public about positive environmental impact. Throughout September, Tuesdays will be known as SHOESDAYS. Join us by going barefoot or wearing odd shoes to work or school on Tuesdays throughout the month.

Factories, offices, healthcare, and sports clubs are getting in on the action, providing collection bins for staff and customers to make donations.

We believe that it’s wrong that almost two million pairs of unwanted shoes end up in landfill every week. This is as much an environmental disaster as it is a tragic waste. And it’s wrong that tens of thousands of people don’t have functional shoes. It’s damaging to people’s foot health, academic potential, and self-esteem.

Get involved

There are collection boxes on many high streets, so it’s easy to donate your unwanted shoes. Just makes sure they’re in good condition. And if you don’t have any spare shoes, help us raise the funds we need to cover our operational costs by donating. We cannot continue to ignore this problem.