Pilot: Schools Speaker Scheme
Our South East team has been piloting the Speaker Scheme in schools. We caught up with Michaela Wragg, Volunteer Development Manager, to learn more about their new focus.
What inspired you to trial the Speaker Scheme in schools?
"We have lots of speaker scheme volunteers in the South East. One of our most active speakers is a former Head Teacher with an existing interest in, and experience of, speaking to students and teachers. We were also receiving requests for people to come into schools and talk about living with diabetes, possibly as a result of our Make the Grade campaign, so a School Speaker Scheme seemed to meet local need. I think it fits in nicely with the charity’s new focus on engaging people living with Type 1 diabetes and working with young people."
Thanks Michaela. So this pilot is building on Diabetes UK’s Speaker Scheme.
How does the existing Speaker Scheme work in the South East?
"Normally we get requests for speakers at care homes, sheltered homes, the Women’s Institute (WI) and occasionally local businesses. We encourage Speaker volunteers to create demand for talks locally, working with these new groups to arrange and deliver their talks. The School Speaker Scheme works in the same way.
We train all volunteers, help with media promotion and give them a list of local schools. They report back to us on their progress and plans. We’re focused on delivering talks to children, so volunteers all have a background in working with children. It’s nice to have a new focus; a great way to increase our reach in the South East and raise awareness of Diabetes UK."
Who is involved in the pilot?
"We have 9 volunteers who have been trained to give talks in local schools. Of these two are former teachers; one is a kid’s martial arts coach, one helped out at an art school drama club, and another has experience volunteering with children in Serbia."
What are volunteers doing?
"Aside from giving interactive presentations about diabetes, we encourage these volunteers to raise awareness of Diabetes UK campaigns by handing out resources such as Make the Grade packs and information on the 4Ts."
How will this support people living with diabetes?
"Our main focus through the Speaker Scheme, in schools or elsewhere in local communities, is raising awareness of the symptoms of diabetes so that school are fully informed. It’s also a good way to tell friends of children with Type 1 diabetes more about the condition. We focus more on Type 1 diabetes when talking to primary schools; introducing Type 2 diabetes when talking to secondary schools, and adding information about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle."