News from the shops

University Of Sussex Preventing Podo

We’re really excited to be teaming up with the University of Sussex and their Preventing PODO campaign at this year’s Brighton Marathon.

Podo - a terrible and preventable Tropical Disease

What is PODO?

Podoconiosis (or podo) is a neglected tropical disease that affects 3 million people in Ethiopia alone, and yet most people have never heard of it. It causes debilitating swelling in the legs and feet of its sufferers, who become immobile, unable to work, and are ostracised from society. Podo costs Ethiopia an estimated $208 million per year in lost productivity. Yet it is entirely preventable and treatable and may be the only non-communicable disease which can be eliminated in our lifetime. Professor Gail Davey and her colleagues at the University of Sussex and the Brighton and Sussex Medical School lead the global hub for podoconiosis research, and are helping to change the lives of patients in Africa and South America.

Founder and MD of Small Batch, Alan Tomlins and Head of Marketing & Digital, Nick Barlow first met at Sussex University back in 2001, sharing a flat in the soon to be demolished East Slope. When Sussex got in touch about their campaign, both Al and Nick jumped at the chance to get involved with the University again. PODO affects people across the globe but very often in coffee growing regions and particularly in Ethiopia, the home of coffee.


Nick & Al outside their old flat

Nick and Al outside their old East Slope flat

Neither Nick or Al had even heard of PODO before and that is part of the problem. People who suffer from the disease are often embarrassed by it and would be hidden away from outside visitors, so Al has never come across it on his travels to Ethiopia to buy coffee. Sufferers are often excluded from attending school or social and religious ceremonies like weddings. They are marginalised, sometimes from their own families, with little prospect for a meaningful life as an active member of their communities.


48% Of Ethiopia's Population at Risk

Treatment of PODO

Although the disease is both preventable and treatable, there are very few government-backed assistance programs for addressing prevention and treatment of podo.

However, Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) is evaluating a simple foot care regime to treat podo, which could be used by our partners in the field. The treatment involves washing the affected areas with water and antiseptic, bandaging and massaging. Specially made shoes are then issued to stop the disease recurring.


Hygiene Training

Teaching basic hygiene to sufferers


This simple regime is incredibly cheap: it only costs around £15 per patient per year. It is also so effective that many podo patients return to normality within a few months of starting the treatment. There are a lot of misconceptions about podo: as well as giving people access to healthcare for the first time, we are also raising awareness across rural communities about the causes of podo and why wearing appropriate footwear will stop it from coming back after treatment. 

New Shoes

Special podo shoes

The Brighton Marathon 10K

Al and Nick were both very keen to get behind the campaign and establish a long-term partnership with Sussex in this really important fight. So keen were they that they’ve both signed up to run 10k at the Brighton Marathon weekend, despite neither of them really being runners. A regime of beer drinking and occasional cricket nets has probably not been the best preparation but thankfully the team has been bolstered by the addition of long-time Small Batch barista Aaron Green who is a keen cyclist and recently completed a half marathon.

 Aaron the cyclist

Aaron - actually quite fit and healthy


In addition to the running, Small Batch will have a filter coffee stall in the Charity Village, offering samples of an Ethiopian Filter coffee for runners and supporters alike. We’re also hoping to work with Prevent Podo during June when our next crop of Ethiopian coffee lands.

So, if you’d like to support this wonderful charity and give Nick, Al and Aaron a bit of a boost then head on over to the Team Small Batch fundraising page and donate bit of cash for this great cause!