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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Volunteering for 30 years - Kim Kemp

As a volunteer for Diabetes UK for three decades, Kim has done many roles. Here's her story so far: 

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"Training as student dietitian in the 70s, I volunteered at my first children’s event at Cobham Hall (Gravesend ,Kent) run by the British Diabetic Association, now Diabetes UK. This made me realise how vital these events are for children and young people.

The event then, as now, was a great way for children and young people to learn about their diabetes, how to test, treat and manage their condition & have fun. During the week, one girl gained the confidence to inject for the first time. This was a turning point in managing her own diabetes. It was also striking how many children had never met another child with diabetes. I realised the value of the time socialising and making friends with other children managing the same condition was so important. In the 70s there was no home glucose monitoring or correction doses of insulin, a sliding scale was used. It was all a bit hit and miss. 

I continued volunteering as a paediatric dietitian for weekend children’s events in Torquay, teaching how to carb count and treat hypos. I then decided to retrain and become a primary school teacher. A month after gaining my first job as a teacher, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. In fact, May 11th 2017 I celebrated 25 years on insulin. I never expected to be as well as I am with no complications. 

Little did I know when I started volunteering over 30 years ago I would still be volunteering now. I attend awareness events and give talks in my local community to help others get the information they need about the risks, symptoms &treatments of diabetes. One of the highlights of the past year has been attending the Health and Well-Being Fair at Plymouth Naval Base, I spoke with many interested personnel and families affected by diabetes. 

A particular challenge for me has been motivating people to take preventative action before reaching the diagnosis. Their health is their responsibility. My role as speaker is to help people understand the small steps they can make to help prevent developing Type 2 diabetes. 

From being a dietitian helping children and their families learn to manage their diabetes to my role now, I really enjoy talking with people and sharing the knowledge and personal experience to help others."

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