It's a privilege to volunteer. It's a nice thing to do; to chat, hand out information and share the story of my son’s diagnosis. People talk to me about their own experiences too.
Meet our Volunteer Spotlight for March 2022, Alan Myers
Alan decided to volunteer as an Events Volunteer with us after his son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He wanted to raise awareness and help others to understand the condition.
Motivations for volunteering
Alan admits that just two years ago, the main thing he knew about diabetes was that it would earn him 11 points on the scrabble board! But that changed when his son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May 2020 at the age of 23.
Having supported his son with his diagnosis and living with type 1, Alan wanted to help others to learn about diabetes, so they could understand what it is, that there are different types, the signs, and symptoms to look out for, possible complications, and why it needs to be taken seriously. So, he applied to be an Events Volunteer, attending public events to raise awareness and share information.
Volunteering at events
After two years of not being able to volunteer due to the pandemic, Alan couldn’t wait to get back out into his local community. A recent invite saw him volunteering at an army base on Salisbury Plain. Alan says, “you never know where volunteering will take you!” He attended two Health Fairs organised by the British Army specifically for service personnel and he spoke with a wide range of people at different stages in their careers.
Alan says “I have huge respect for our armed forces, and I wanted to attend to be able to chat and share information which may help them and their families. It was great fun speaking with serving personnel about their roles and what they get up to in their jobs as well as their health.
All morning, there was a constant flow of soldiers to my stall, many chatting about somebody in their family, a friend or neighbour who has diabetes. People asked me about the signs of diabetes, the different types of diabetes and how they could get tested.
I was able to draw on my family’s own experience to tell them about the 4Ts and how there’s currently no cure for type 1 diabetes. I explained that type 2 diabetes isn’t just about weight or lifestyle and that genetics, age, ethnicity, and gender are also key risk factors. I showed them Diabetes UK’s type 2 risk leaflet and told them how they can find out their risk on the Diabetes UK website.”
“People can share the most heart-breaking stories with me while I’m volunteering. I remember one man who told me that his young son with hindsight exhibited all the 4Ts, he was eating loads but not keeping on weight. He put his son to bed one night and he sadly died in his sleep from undiagnosed type 1 diabetes. This really brought home why I volunteer, if I can prevent just one loss like this, it would be amazing.”
Alan knows that many people, just like him two years ago, don’t understand what diabetes is or how serious it can be. He feels that it’s important to share information as much as possible and recognises that the 4T’s poster could save a life. He’s also passionate that everyone should know their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
“It's a privilege to volunteer. It's a nice thing to do; to chat, hand out information and share the story of my son’s diagnosis. People talk to me about their own experiences too.”
Alan feels a huge sense of satisfaction when event-goers thank him and leave his stall knowing something new about diabetes. “It makes you feel good to help people learn something they and their loved ones may really need, either right now or in the future.”
Hopes for the future
Alan is hoping that he will be able to attend more awareness events this year. He’s also excited about continuing advances in diabetes technology. In April 2022, Alan’s son is running his first half marathon, London Landmarks, in aid of diabetes research, proving you can do anything while living with diabetes.
If you've been inspired by Alan's story, take a look at our volunteering opportunities.