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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Look after your sole: Southampton Podiatry student’s project to support diabetic foot care

Published: 27 July 2023
Sophie Bennett
Sophie Bennett with Saranjit Karir from Singh Sabha Gurdwara.

A University of Southampton podiatry student has launched a campaign to empower people with diabetes to prioritise their foot care.

Sophie Bennett’s S.O.L.E project is raising awareness of foot-related complications associated with diabetes and providing support for those affected by the disease.

Sophie explained: "When people receive a diabetes diagnosis, medical professionals often focus on managing blood sugar levels, inadvertently neglecting to address the implications for foot health.

"It is crucial that we reach out to people living with diabetes and ensure they are well informed about the foot-related side effects, as they can potentially lead to severe consequences in the future."

Sophie Bennett on tour in Southampton.
Sophie Bennett on tour in Southampton.

Diabetes, a chronic condition affecting approximately one in 11 adults worldwide, often causes diabetic neuropathy—a condition characterised by reduced sensation in the feet, making people susceptible to cuts and ulcers.

Diabetes also increases the likelihood of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which affects blood circulation. Insufficient blood flow to the feet stops wounds healing, often causing infections and, in severe cases, amputation.

As part of the S.O.L.E project, Sophie is hosting a touring workshop called The Diabetes Foot Education Tour, providing advice, support and valuable tips — both online and in-person—to diabetes sufferers.

Sophie also has a regular station at the Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Southampton.

Sophie on tour at Singh Sabha Gurdwara.
Sophie on tour at Singh Sabha Gurdwara.

Saranjit Karir, a member of Singh Sabha, said: "Many of our diabetic congregation have benefited from Sophie's pop-up events. We are very grateful to her for providing such useful information to the local public."

Sophie has also partnered with Diabetes UK, the leading charity supporting those living with diabetes in the UK, for some of her tours.

Angie Whitmarsh, a member of the Southampton and District group of Diabetes UK, said: "Having Sophie support us in our ongoing diabetic care has been incredibly beneficial, particularly considering the limited time available to healthcare personnel. Sophie joined our group, displaying genuine interest in our cause, and has become a familiar face with whom we can openly discuss any foot-related concerns."

S.O.L.E project on tour with Diabetes UK.
S.O.L.E project on tour with Diabetes UK.

Sophie now hopes to expand the impact of S.O.L.E by integrating it into clinics and GP practices. She also plans to address foot-related issues faced by other demographics such as the elderly, individuals with arthritis, and even marathon runners.

To learn more about the S.O.L.E project and participate in their efforts to promote foot health among individuals with diabetes, please visit Sophie’s Twitter or the Diabetic Foot Education Tour , also on Twitter.

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