Driven by the desire to help people in his local West Yorkshire community to live happy and healthy lives, Altaf Daji has been volunteering with Diabetes UK for over three years, raising awareness of diabetes and supporting people to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Altaf’s dad had type 2 diabetes and many people in his family live with the condition.
Altaf, from Batley, said: “A lot of people in my family have type 2 diabetes, even younger people in their 30s and 40s. Nobody wants to live their lives suffering but unfortunately I’ve seen so many people I know and in the local community who have suffered from the worst impacts of diabetes.”
But for Altaf, diabetes isn’t an inevitability: “I think it’s important to give people support and advice on how to live a healthier life and often this can mean small changes to your lifestyle that can reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes. If you’re already living with diabetes, a healthier lifestyle will also mean you’re able to manage your diabetes better.”
One of his biggest passions is working within his local community to offer support and advice and create long lasting change in people’s lives.
Before volunteering for Diabetes UK, he worked as a volunteer coordinator as part of Diabetes UK’s Community Champion project in Kirklees, training volunteers to offer support and raise awareness of diabetes in their local communities. When the project ended, Altaf wanted to continue this work and still stays in touch with many of the volunteers who were involved.
“I think having a local presence in your community helps to build trust. People are more likely to listen to you and really appreciate having a friendly face to talk to.
“I think it’s so important to raise awareness of diabetes and hearing information from someone you know, in your local community, can have a much bigger impact. I’ve met so many people over the years just in the street or a local shop that I’ve been able to support with practical advice.”
Altaf has continued working in his local area throughout the pandemic and is currently a Covid-19 Support Officer, providing advice and support to local businesses and the community on how to keep safe during the coronavirus crisis.
He also presents a programme on a community radio station, Al Mubarak, sharing information and support on a variety of issues, including diabetes.
He adds: “As a Muslim, I believe that our health is a gift from God, so it’s important to do all you can to maintain good health and also to support others to do that too. I’m glad I’m able to play a part in helping my local community live happier, healthier lives.”