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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Volunteering to help improve diabetes care

Not all people with diabetes receive the consistent, high-quality care they need. Severe diabetes complications can all be avoided with better care and treatment, and improved self-management, education and support.

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Sandra won the 2017 South West Inspire Award for Campaigning and Influencing

Service Champions like Sandra volunteer to improve overall diabetes care throughout the UK by working with the health systems in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

What attracted you to start volunteering?

I have lived with Type 1 diabetes since 1961 and have seen many changes in diabetes care, from glass syringes to modern wearable technology, the progression in treatment and care has been impressive, but there is still a long way to go.

Tell us a bit more about your role as a service champion

In my role as a Service Champion volunteer with Diabetes UK, I work to reduce the inequality of care for people with diabetes across the country.

A key part of achieving this goal is my current involvement with the Diabetes Digital Coach, one of seven test beds which is a joint programme between NHS England, the Office for Life Science, the Department of Health and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

We are working to shape, produce, test and evaluate a pioneering digital platform that can help people with long term conditions manage their conditions more effectively and stay well. For example, how can we use wearable sensors and supporting software to help people with diabetes to do the right thing at the right time to self-manage their condition and help health care professions to give timely and effective intervention?

What impact does your volunteering role have on the people you work with?

I have been instrumental in establishing and co-ordinating a network of diabetes support groups in Bristol and lead the drop in group for people with Type 1. Our groups form a focus group to feedback on the progress of the digital project. Volunteering with the Diabetes Digital Coach team has been a great experience for us all, and their open and welcoming approach has made people with diabetes feel valued members of the project and we feel that we are helping to make a real difference in shaping the future of diabetes care.

What difference has volunteering made to you?

Being part of the programme has challenged me as a person too and helped me gain media skills and grow in confidence. I’ve had to conquer my nerves to take a lead role in a film explaining about the project, I’ve spoken to national and local television and radio stations and given talks at conferences to promote the pioneering work we are doing.

Go back to Volunteers' Week page or check out our current opportunities.

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