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Clare's story: Volunteering at the Grants Advisory Panel

Clare's story

Clare Dowling

When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes I wanted to be part of a community trying to make a difference in the fight against diabetes.

Clare Dowling is a member of the Grants Advisory Panel. This is a group of people living with diabetes, and family members or carers of a person living with diabetes who review funding applications to help focus our research spending. She first joined the group back in May 2018 and continues to be an integral part of the group. 

Volunteering

Clare's experience as a volunteer

"When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes I wanted to be part of a community trying to make a difference in the fight against diabetes."

Clare initially volunteered with Diabetes UK to be a member of the James Lind Alliance top ten priority setting group for type 2 diabetes. Following a series of nation-wide surveys, volunteers gathered in London to work together to identify the top 10 research areas deemed most important to those living with diabetes, healthcare professionals and carers. 

“The experience was inspiring and uplifting. I left wanting to become more involved with Diabetes UK. I was encouraged to join the Grants Advisory Panel (GAP) by a member of the group I met at the priority setting partnership event. Once he explained what it would involve, I was on board straightaway!”

“The encouragement and respect I feel from the Diabetes UK staff and the other members of the panel makes me know my opinions and experiences are important”

Adapting to the virtual world 

The pandemic “challenged the way GAP works” says Clare. Usually the Panel meets for two full days per year. This has since changed to four half days via Zoom. Clare was part of the panel for the Covid-19 and diabetes rapid response call in May 2020 which allowed her to quickly adapt to volunteering in the virtual space. Clare is very much looking forward to returning to face to face meetings. In her own words “there’s nothing like in person gatherings as we’ve all learned over the past year.”

What volunteering means to Clare

“The best thing about volunteering is meeting so many interesting and friendly people who aren’t taking their diabetes diagnoses lying down! And it is so wonderful to learn about the exciting work going on by researchers. Volunteering gives you a sense of hope that we will be able to live in a world where diabetes can do no harm. I would encourage anyone who is thinking about volunteering with DUK to do so even if you don’t have a lot of time to give. There is an opportunity for us all to play our part”

Clare has been inspired by so many “heroes” locally and nationally. “I would watch the news and see how frontline workers and volunteers were working endlessly to help other people.” Clare was inspired to follow her local volunteer groups on social media to try and contribute. “I ended up making masks for a local care home at the start of the pandemic and shopping for neighbours who were shielding”

Looking to the future

Clare has recently received her second covid vaccination. She's looking forward to spending time with family and friends and taking a vacation to Scotland with her husband and dogs. 

“Hopefully a trip back to visit family in the US will happen in 2022. Oh, and I’m really looking forward to a haircut!”

If you’ve been inspired by Clare’s story, find out how you can get involved

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