Meet our Volunteer Spotlight for April 2021, Dawn Morgan
It's been so interesting and rewarding to hear people's story and empower them. Volunteering has been a very positive experience - it gives you a feeling that you're contributing to your community and giving something back.
Dawn is a Speaker Volunteer from Nottingham. She first started volunteering for us in 2017 and is giving online awareness talks in the run up to Ramadan this year.
Starting out - applying to volunteer
“I started largely because I have a family history of diabetes. My father and Aunt had type 2 and I’ve always been aware that the risk is higher in the African-Caribbean population. I wanted to make a difference to my community, and wider society.”
At the time, Dawn was completing a part-time Masters in Nutrition in Practice and is now a Registered Associate Nutritionist with the AFN (Association for Nutrition). This was another reason why the speaker role appealed to her, hoping she could use her knowledge of nutrition and her experience of being a teacher in a secondary school.
“I found out about the speaker role through the local Midlands office, I applied and was invited to an induction in Nottingham. It was such an interesting and informative day. All the volunteers had a different motivation for why they were there.”
At the training, they learnt about all types of diabetes and the key messages, from understanding the signs and symptoms of diabetes, to Diabetes UK campaigns. They then practiced giving a talk to the group and gave each other feedback.
“It was a bit nerve wracking, delivering that first talk to people I didn’t know even though I’m a teacher and used to getting up in front of a class! But the whole day was inspirational and I felt spurred on afterwards.”
Our volunteers source talks in their communities and Dawn chose to do her first talk at the school that she works in. From there, she’s gone on to reach out to other places to speak to.
Sharing key Ramadan messages
In March, Dawn delivered a Ramadan talk to a local Community Group in Nottingham.
Ramadan runs from 12 April to 11 May this year, ending with Eid-al-Fitr, a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide.
“Delivering the key messages before Ramadan is important. If you’re fasting and have diabetes then you need to take the necessary steps to make sure your health is maintained. In the talk, we advise people to speak to their health care professional before deciding to fast, and their local Imam if necessary. They should test their blood glucose levels regularly and if their fasting is causing any impact or complications, it’s ok to break their fast.”
Dawn also talks about avoiding the sugary starchy foods, although it’s tempting, when breaking fast. “During Ramadan and Eid, people look forward to their treats, and the key is moderation. Not cutting out foods completely but considering alternative healthier snacks and being conscious of portion size. I signpost to the resources around Diabetes and Ramadan on the Diabetes UK website and the recipes on there.”
Adapting to delivering talks online
Delivering talks online is “a whole new boardgame” says Dawn. The key? Preparation. “You have to prepare and think of ways of making the talk engaging for the audience on Zoom. I’ve looked at courses on giving online presentations. It can be nerve wracking, but I'm more familiar with using Zoom and the technical aspects now.”
Dawn was pleased by the positive feedback from the talk to the Nottingham Community Group and that those that joined were engaged and asked questions. “Online talks can be quite dynamic. We used the polls on Zoom to evaluate the talk to find out the scale of knowledge at the beginning and then at the end.”
Looking to the future - what’s next?
Dawn’s keen to continue using her passion for nutrition to deliver talks. With the help of our Engaging Communities Team, she’s hoping she can make more contacts with Muslim communities in the East Midlands.
“I’m always keen to find out the latest in diabetes research and learn more. It’s been so valuable to be able to build on my knowledge and it’s been so interesting and rewarding to hear people’s story and empower them. Volunteering has been a very positive experience – it gives you a feeling that you’re contributing to your community and giving something back.”
If you’ve been inspired by Dawn’s story, find out how you can get involved.