Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes

 a mile in my shoesA “unique participatory arts project” A Mile in My Shoes is at Westquay on the Esplande from September 12 – 20.


It’s part of Mayflower 400, which “seeks to celebrate the city and those who live and work here ... it will explore the stories of all the people of the world, including the Mayflower passengers, who have come to, or through, Southampton in search of a new life,”.

a mile in my shoes

This from Southampton City Council in their own words.

The Empathy Museum’s A Mile in My Shoes is a shoe shop where visitors are invited to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes – literally. Wearing a pair of the contributor’s shoes, visitors go for a walk, listening to the shoes’ original owner telling them a story. The stories cover different aspects of life, exploring themes of shared humanity, from grief and loss to love and joy, visitors take an empathetic, as well as a physical journey. A Mile in My Shoes, will be at Westquay on the Esplanade 12-20 September 2020.

“Walk a mile in my shoes, understand my experiences, challenges, thought processes, joy, sorrows – then let’s sit down and talk.” Participant, Eva Dixon.

This unique participatory arts project includes stories from all over the world, along with eight new local stories from Southampton, commissioned by Mayflower 400. These Southampton stories will become part of the Empathy Museum’s permanent collection. They include:

    • Tom Wilkinson, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Southampton, who is leading the clinical trial of a new treatment for Covid-19.
    • Professor Margaret Ross MBE, named one of the most influential women in IT talks of the developments in IT over the last few decades as well as her love of horses and the New Forest. 
    • Aaron Phipps, a London 2012 Paralympic athlete, sharing his story of climbing Kilimanjaro unassisted.
    • Eva Dixon, co-founder of a local grassroots charity who support African woman. She is also an entrepreneur and has been part of several women empowerment projects in England and Kenya.
    • Cultural leader, Dahlia Jamil, who through her work at Art Asia has enabled individuals and groups to access, experiment and engage with the creative industry. 
    • Community Radio producer, Ram Kalyan ‘Kelly’ who talks of this passion and enthusiasm for radio and community cohesion.
    • Lou Taylor, Director of Black History Month South, talks about the importance of understanding our collective history and questions whether the conversation on race has only just started.
    • Ciro Scognamiglio is an Italian Graffiti Artist and Chef. Ciro is a well-known throughout The Hip Hop scene in Southampton. He has recently produced artwork for Street Knowledge, a grass roots music initiative, promoting MCs in Southampton.


“The Empathy Museum is a wonderful art installation and I’m delighted and honoured to be a part of such a unique project that showcases the rich diversity of Southampton”. Participant Lou Taylor BHM South CIC

The installation is open 10am – 4pm Monday – Wednesday, 10am – 6pm Thursday – Sunday. Monday – Wednesday, 10am -12pm, over 70s and vulnerable people will be prioritised for slots and to increase social distancing, fewer people will be given access.  To ensure all participants are comfortable and Covid-secure, a range of flexible options have been put in place to ensure that they have the best experience. For example, if they prefer, shoes can be looked at but not worn and they can choose to use their own devices or bring their own headphones to plug in to listen to the stories.

“I love the concept of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. The way it promotes diversity, allowing audiences to become closer and experience other people’s life journey’s. Everyone has a story to tell and The Empathy Museum celebrates this. It’s great to have a project like this in Southampton”. Participant, Ciro Scognamiglio

The installation is free to attend.  There will be a timed entry system. To avoid the queues, free tickets are bookable in advance, online, here. You can attend without advanced booking but will have to wait for an available slot and be asked to complete track and trace information. After the installation closes, you will be able to hear all of the Southampton stories online on the Mayflower 400 website.

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