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Families attend Westminster event to help celebrate new law

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Families and children affected by Type 1 diabetes attended a special event in Westminster to help raise awareness of a new law to support children with Type 1 diabetes.The families were joined by more than 100 guests at a reception in One Birdcage Walk, located on St James’s Park, held by Diabetes UK to raise awareness of a new law, which now means that all schools in England are legally required to provide the support that children with medical conditions, such as Type 1 diabetes, need.The law will come into effect in September and means that schools will have to have individual healthcare plans and a Medical Conditions Policy in place. They will also have to commit to working closely with parents and relevant healthcare professionals such as Diabetes Specialist Nurses.

“Families got the chance to meet with their MPs”

At the event, families got the chance to meet with their MPs and directly appeal to them to write to schools in their areas to let them know of the new rules.Guests also heard from Zoe Sherwood and her 10 year old son Lewis Sherwood who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 4 years old. Zoe spoke movingly about her decision to take his school to tribunal after he was told he couldn’t go on a school trip because of his Type 1 diabetes.

“All children have the right to a happy safe education”

Zoe said: “For three months we were told Lewis’ inclusion was not an issue then four weeks before the trip there was a class meeting in which all the children were told about the trip in more detail.  We were asked to stay after the meeting and then asked if we could collect Lewis at teatime and return after breakfast as teachers didn’t want the responsibility of Lewis attending overnight.  Those few words crushed our then eight year old. After the meeting Lewis began to cry himself to sleep and hid when it was time for school.“We decided we had no other option but to address this wrong through the courts.  The whole process was extremely stressful as we had no legal representation and had to prepare the case ourselves. This is why the new law is just so important. There can be no misunderstanding. All children have the right to a happy safe education and childhood with the same opportunities as their peers, regardless of medical conditions.”

Speaking after his mum, Lewis said: “It really upset me when my old school wouldn’t let me be with my friends and join them on a school trip. The new law makes me happy as I don’t want any other boys and girls going through what I went through.

“My new school is great.  All schools should be like it. They look after me and make me feel safe and happy.”

Speeches were also made by the Assistant Headteacher at Lewis’ new school, Diabetes UK Chief Executive Barbara Young and Education Minister Lord Nash, who is responsible for the new law.

“Meeting children with Type 1 diabetes played an essential role in changing the law”

Speaking about the work which has been done to get the Government to implement the new law, Lord Nash said: “Meeting children with Type 1 diabetes played an essential role in changing the law. It was clear that something needed to be done. I’m aware that many schools already treat pupils with diabetes well, but my department will keep a close eye to ensure the new legislation turns into good practice in all schools.”Diabetes UK has produced free packs for schools to help them implement the new rules. The packs contain information about Type 1 diabetes and how to support children with the condition and a sample Medical Conditions Policy.The charity has also produced free packs for parents, which outline what care they should expect in schools.Barbara Young, Diabetes UK Chief Executive, said: “This exciting new law wouldn’t have happened without the support of thousands of families of children with Type 1 diabetes, who made it clear to the government why support in school for children with the condition is so essential.“They have helped change the lives of not only children with Type 1 diabetes but also millions of children with medications such as asthma, cancer and epilepsy who will also benefit from the new law.“Our event was held to thank all of those families and to put them in touch with their MPs. But we know that there is still a lot of work to do to ensure that all children are fully supported, which is why we have produced free resources for schools and parents, which set out exactly what good care in school for children with Type 1 diabetes looks like.”

Watch Lewis's special report from the event

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