Big Lobby speaker
On 15 May, Elaine Clark, Diabetes Voice from Barking & Dagenham, attended Diabetes UK’s Big Lobby. Here she shares her thoughts about the day and explains how she got involved.
Why did you decide to join Diabetes Voices?
I was asked to join by Diabetes UK as they recognised my enthusiasm for speaking out about diabetes issues.
You came along to the Diabetes UK Big Lobby. What did you hope to achieve from the day?
I wanted to meet with my MP to ask them to support Diabetes UK’s campaign for a national diabetes plan. I also wanted to ask my MP to support my campaign to make it compulsory to include diabetes (as secondary condition) on death certificates so the true figures of people dying from diabetes-related complications are recognised.
You managed to arrange a meeting with Jon Cruddas MP and Margaret Hodge MP. How did you go about setting these meetings up?
I just contacted their office via email, told them about the Lobby and asked if they would meet with me. I already knew Jon Cruddas from when my husband was ill, and luckily he agreed immediately. I had never met with Margaret Hodge, and it took a couple of reminder emails, but we eventually got her to agree to squeeze us into her busy schedule. I had to be a bit flexible on times with both, but making sure we met with them was more important than the actual time.
How did your meeting go?
Excellent. We spent about an hour with Jon: he was very interested in the recording of diabetes on the death certificate and said he would raise it as an adjournment debate. Margaret was also very interested, and has met with us since we saw her in Parliament. She seemed very eager to learn about what having diabetes involves and keen to support Diabetes UK’s campaign.
What did you enjoy most about the day?
For me, the highlight of the day was the light-bulb moment when Jon Cruddas recognised and agreed with what I was saying about the need to have diabetes recorded on death certificates.
What else will you be doing to support Diabetes UK’s campaign?
I, and the Barking & Dagenham Diabetes Support Group, will be keeping in touch with both local MPs and making sure that diabetes stays at the top of the agenda in our area.
What advice would you give to other people who want to get involved?
Just go for it! If you feel strongly about any issues, make sure you find out where your voice can be heard. It’s hard work attending meetings, but it’s harder watching things fall apart because you haven’t done anything about it. Your opinion counts as much as anyone else – don’t sit back and regret not doing anything. My personal confidence has grown tremendously, and when you achieve a goal there really is no better feeling.