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Elysa's story: From research to volunteering

Our volunteer, Elysa

Elysa Ioannou

Writing her PhD on lifestyle interventions

What would I say to people thinking about volunteering? Just do it. It’s totally flexible and rewarding to feel like you’re making a difference.

Not only has Elysa found her passion through diabetes research, but she spends her spare time volunteering - teaching others about the important topic of gestational diabetes.

Journey with diabetes

Growing up around diabetes

My experience of diabetes goes back to my childhood. My grandfather had diabetes and was on insulin for years. My mum had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, and then I experienced several effects of that growing up, including managing my own risk through diet and exercise. This all inspired me to study Sport Sciences at Loughborough and go on to become a Registered Nutritionist. My PhD is focusing on trying to optimise lifestyle interventions after gestational diabetes to prevent type 2 diabetes.

As someone who’s very interested in preventing type 2 diabetes, reducing risk and managing the condition, it was only natural that I would be interested in being involved with Diabetes UK. I’d love one day to find a role that fits my skills and work within the charity, at the forefront of advocating for and improving life for people with diabetes. I’m currently a volunteer and I’m really proud to be connected to Diabetes UK, and to be able to help in any way that I can.

Volunteering

Volunteering with Diabetes UK

My volunteering consists of being a speaker, going to events and helping to spread awareness. I’m most proud of being part of the Gestational Diabetes group that used to run online bi-weekly. I met a lot of great women there and felt as though I was being helpful by responding to questions and supporting first-hand. Some of these women are also part of the steering group running my PhD – research that’s guided by the people, for the people.

Looking towards the future

As an advocate for lifestyle changes, I would love to be able to run and set up workshops that include activity as well. I think it’s imperative to have support networks set up for women during and after diabetes.

As for what I’d say to people thinking about volunteering. Just do it. You don’t need to commit more than you’re capable of. It’s totally flexible and really rewarding to feel like you’re making a difference.

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