You’ve done the Ice Bucket Challenge…this summer will you dare to bare your soles?

TV adventurer Bear Grylls and former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, are backing the latest social media fundraising challenge – The Barefoot Challenge – to stand in solidarity with those affected by leprosy.

Singer-songwriter Philippa Hanna prepares for the Barefoot Challenge

The Barefoot Challenge launches The Leprosy Mission’s Feet First campaign on Monday (1 June) to transform the lives of some of the world’s poorest and marginalised people in Mozambique.

The challenge sees members of the public go about their daily business barefoot for one day – so whether it is shopping, going to work or walking the dog, doing it all bare foot! The idea is for those taking on the challenge to stand in solidarity with people affected by leprosy which causes nerve damage. As a result they often damage their feet as a result of a stone inadvertently caught in their shoe or by walking around barefoot on dusty and dirty tracks. This can lead to severe infection which can lead to terrible deformities.

Those taking part in the Barefoot Challenge will raise money as part of The Leprosy Mission’s Feet First appeal. And the good news is between 1 June and 31 August everything the public raises or donates will be doubled by the government. 

International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, said:  “Around the world, leprosy can rob entire families of the opportunities for education and work that would enable them to lift themselves out of poverty.

“By doubling public donations to The Leprosy Mission’s Feet First appeal, the UK government will provide training in farming techniques, establish loan schemes, and support self-help groups to help around 25,000 of the most vulnerable people in Mozambique build a better future for themselves and their families.”

Those taking part are encouraged to post their photos on Facebook and Twitter and nominate three friends to take up the challenge.

Internationally-acclaimed singer and songwriter Philippa Hanna recently travelled to Mozambique to witness The Leprosy Mission’s pioneering Feet First project and undertook the Barefoot Challenge which was captured on film.

Philippa said:  “You have probably heard the phrase to ‘walk a mile in their shoes’. Well to find out what life is like for a leprosy-affected person we’re asking you to take your shoes right off! I challenge you to join me and take on the Barefoot Challenge for the day.”

The Feet First campaign is backed by Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, who said:  “Millions of people have their lives blighted by leprosy in the world today. There is a cure and there are preventable measures to stop disability. The Leprosy Mission exists to carry on Jesus’s own outreach to people with leprosy and to support The Leprosy Mission is to carry on that work.”

At 1pm on Monday, staff at the Peterborough-based Leprosy Mission will be joined by supporters and volunteers in Cathedral Square, Peterborough to stand barefoot in solidarity with people affected by leprosy and launch the Barefoot Challenge as part of Feet First.

The International Development Act 2015 comes into force on Monday making it a timely day for The Leprosy Mission to launch its appeal.  The matched funding will come from the government’s Department for International Development.

Feet First will work with ultra-poor people in Mozambique. Leprosy-caused nerve damage can lead to terrible deformities and even amputation.  But through foot care groups, which help people to protect their numb feet, and by providing protective sandals, leprosy-affected people will be spared the wounds and ulcers that can lead to permanent disability. This means that people affected by leprosy can remain mobile and independent – able to look after themselves and not reduced to a life of begging. 

Visit www.feetfirst.org.uk to find out more and sign up to take the Barefoot Challenge

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