Cassandra Searle from Benfleet was among a group of 12 graduates who have completed vitalCommunity Championtraining, helping leading charity Diabetes UK pass the 1,000th Community Champions milestone.
The programme is designed to promote prevention ofType 2 diabetesand help people understand their risk, by creating local champions who engage people from ethnic minority groups and other socio-economically deprived communities.
They explain what Type 2 diabetes is, who is at risk, signs and symptoms, myths and misconceptions, complications, and the NHS services that are available.
Last year, the Community Champions Programme ran in seven areas, raising awareness of diabetes and Diabetes UK by organising stalls, talks, presentations and healthy living days at community centres, health fairs and local festivals.
I wanted to become a Community Champion so I could further my knowledge and understanding of the condition.
Cassandra is a rehab assistant and is particularly interested in diabetes as her father lives with the condition. People from ethnic minority communities can be two to four times more likely than average to develop Type 2 diabetes, yet simple lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce therisk of developing the condition or help manage it well.
Thanks to the work of the first cohort of Community Champions, thousands of people around the country are finding out about their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, how to reduce their risk, and how to manage the condition.
Krishna Sarda, Engaging Communities Manager at Diabetes UK, said: “Our Community Champion programme has been an incredible success because it is a model built on collaboration. As much as we teach our Champions about tackling diabetes, they educate us about the differences in diet, health habits and the nuances of their communities.
“Diversity in the UK is increasingly complex. We have so many different countries of birth, languages, backgrounds, histories and cultures, that there can never be a ‘one size fits all’ solution. This is why our Champions programme has such a vital role to play.
“As trusted members of their communities, Champions are acting as ambassadors for Diabetes UK, reaching people who may not realise they could be at risk or may not be aware of the programmes and support that is available.”