Dr Michael Kinchington PhD (consultant podiatrist) is the Founder of the homeless social enterprise initative: Soul to Sole.
Michael decided in 2017 after the Martin Place Homeless Tent City episode to establish a social enterprise program for the dual purpose of wellness for your own feet (supportive thongs) and use the proceeds to assist the welfare of Australia's homeless people.
Dr Michael Kinchington is an internationally recognised Podiatrist with significant professional, academic and positions of honor, which have been bestowed over the course of his career.
As Dr Kinchington commenced his daily commute through the streets of the city of Sydney, on the way to his well appointed Podiatry practice in Martin Place, the contrast of those on the street - homeless and requiring care, was profound.
With the evident number of increasing homeless Australians it struck him with conviction that his Podiatric professional experience must be harnessed with a sense of purpose and immediacy for those living on the street.
The realisation was the fact the main mode of transport for the homeless, is their feet. The concept of using an orthopaedic thong (he helped develop) which encompasses a very Australian spirit, would be the vehicle to provide protective, comfortable footwear to the homeless.
This social enterprise is a way for the community at large who wear thongs as a convenience and for fun to purchase (initially for their own comfort) and in doing so help Michael run Soul to Soul that provides new shoes for the homeless.
The beginnings of the Soul to Sole program happened unintentionally. Working in the field of Podiatric Medicine for 25 years and over the course of an extremely enjoyable career, Michael has consulted to more than 20,000 private patients in some of the country's leading medical facilities.
He is heavily invested in the world of academia having studied in the areas of footwear biomechanics and sports medicine publishing numerous peer reviewed publications. He has consulted to elite sports teams over many years including current roles with The Sydney Swans AFL and Western Sydney Wanderers; A-League.
One of many highlights of his Sports Medicine career was as Director of the Medical Program for the Sydney Olympics and Paralympics. It was during his tenure within the Olympic Village that he first witnessed the dichotomy of “those with” and those without” even at the most prestigious sporting event in the world where history is often made. Some athletes arrived to the Games with very poor footwear and in some cases no shoes at all!
Since then he has written discussion papers for the International Olympic Committee on lower limb intervention for all, consulted to host Olympic countries and the Special Olympic Games.
In 2012 Michael teamed up with his friend and mentor Mark Ninio, a distinguished Sydney Podiatrist and they began a journey of designing a flip-flop (thong) that not only looked good but was also beneficial to the mechanics of human walking.
As Michael walked through the streets of Sydney in the course of city life, it struck him as to the increasing numbers of fellow Australians who were homeless and shoeless!
The images of homeless Australia became louder as he would walk daily through Martin Place, through the heart of the financial district of Sydney, the irony of a homeless community on the doorsteps of his podiatry practice and the Reserve Bank of Australia seemed impossible to ignore;
“…I had this great flip flop ready to launch in Australia, so I thought why not make Ozify Australia a cause related organisation. This could be a great opportunity to help the homeless of which there are more than 110,000 Australians; a ridiculous concept given we are a first world economy”.
Michael garners inspiration for the cause related business model from Blake McCoskie, the philanthropist and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS; the person behind One for One®, a business model that helps a person in need with every product purchased.
Blake’s vision has grown into a global movement providing over 60 million pairs of shoes to children since 2006.
To date Soul to Sole has fitted more than 600 shoes and 500 pairs of socks to the homeless.
...And so the journey began...