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Diabetes UK Award for tireless volunteer and support group in Neath/Port Talbot and Bridgend area

Paula Jarrett

Paula Jarrett from Bridgend and the group Type1derful have both won an Inspire Award.

Our winner, Paula Jarrett

Paula has been volunteering for us since her daughter Hannah was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 13 years ago. Hannah is now 23 and is taking part in our One Million Step Challenge too.

Paula said:

“I feel very humbled to have received this award. When my daughter was diagnosed, support was very thin on the ground. It was a lonely and scary time I will never forget. Thankfully, Diabetes UK Cymru were there to help and support us as a family. I never want any parent to feel alone like that. Over the years, I have been working with others, so now there’s more help. Type 1 parents are a formidable bunch and we're all in it together helping to support one another

Paula is a busy lady - she is the Treasurer for Type1derful (another winner of the Inspire Awards this year), a parent representative for Swansea Bay MDT, attends the Wales Advisory Council panel at Diabetes UK Cymru and is a parent representative for the Children and Young Persons Wales Diabetes Network.

In her free time, she loves baking, reading, walking and making crafts.

“I am retired and keep on saying I will step back but I do enjoy the challenge and really like seeing the children empowering one another in the get-togethers we organise. I feel passionate about the transition from Children and Young Persons services to Adults and that’s why I am involved with Seren Connect which is an education programme to ease the transition from Paediatric to Adult services. There is still a lot of work to do and that keeps me going.

Type-1-derful: invaluable support for young people and their families

Type-1-derful has been supporting children living with diabetes and their families in the Neath, Port Talbot and Bridgend area of Wales for the past 5 years.

“Having a child with diabetes has a substantial impact not only on the child but on the entire family, and brings about all sorts of emotions”, says Paula, who has a mentoring role working with newly diagnosed families in the diabetes community.

The Type-1-derful committee, which includes Paula and Helen Jones, are passionate about the group and they tirelessly fundraise and organise fun events and trips away for the children and families.

The group has around 150 members, meets every three months and run events in the school holidays. These are fun days out in the countryside, pool parties, camps and visits to attractions.

However, it’s challenging to find suitable venues and times, as it’s a large geographical area. The lockdown has added an extra layer of difficulty and the group has been active only online.

Paula said:

“I feel the group have missed out a lot on get-togethers, and we have had a few newly diagnosed which I like to get to meet so that they feel included, our teams at both hospitals are great in passing on information about the group and most join whilst still on the ward. During the summer months we tend to have lots of trips for the children and young people and that had to stop due to coronavirus. The return to school is a tricky decision for some, also the lack of transparency or confusing information from the Welsh government regarding shielding.”

This group, available 24/7 via their closed Facebook group page, has been a lifeline for many families. This is a safe and secure environment where connections with other families can be share tips and experiences. Worries or concerns can also be expressed. The page is monitored carefully by the committee who ensure anyone seeking medical advice are advised to contact their local Health Care Professional.

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