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Volunteer Spotlight - March 2024 - Kirsty French

Kirsty is a Pensions Administrator from Glasgow who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was just 18 months old. She’s a member of Diabetes Scotland’s Tech Collective, a General Volunteer at our Type 1 Family Weekender events, and has just signed up to be a Football Fans In Training (FFIT) volunteer with her dad.

Starting out as a volunteer

Kirsty was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in October 1993, and in December that year she went to a Christmas party organised by the Diabetes UK Glasgow Family Group. She says her family became heavily involved with the group for a long time, and her parents held various positions on the group’s committee as she was growing up.

Returning to volunteering after a break

When she was a teenager, Kirsty says she “drifted away” from the group. But in her 20s she went to an event in Scottish Parliament celebrating 25 years of Diabetes Scotland. The local Volunteer Manager invited her to volunteer again, and she says “it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.” She began by setting up a peer support group for people living with diabetes in Glasgow, with her brother (and best friend) Iain.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kirsty joined the Tech Collective, a group of volunteers who campaign for fair and equal access to diabetes technology across Scotland. She also continued as a peer support volunteer online during this time.

When face-to-face events began again, Kirsty went to a Diabetes Scotland Family Networking Day, which she says was “really good fun.” She also applied to volunteer at our Type 1 Family Weekender events.

            “I love them so much, it’s so much fun.”

She recently began volunteering with our Football Fans In Training (FFIT) programme in partnership with the Scottish Professional Football League. She’s doing this with her dad, and she said they were both really excited about it, particularly because the first session they ran was at Ibrox, where her dad’s team, Glasgow Rangers, play. She is also excited about getting more involved with people affected by type 2 diabetes. “I feel like I’m bridging the gap, it’s not an us-and-them, we’re all fighting the same fight here.”


Kirsty says being part of the Tech Collective has been “so inspiring.” When she first joined the Collective, she had just started using an insulin pump. Her fellow Collective members taught her about hybrid closed loop systems, and helped her to get one for herself.

The biggest achievement of Kirsty’s volunteering is getting the chance to speak on behalf of the Tech Collective at a parliamentary reception on World Diabetes Day in 2023.

“I still can’t believe it happened, how many people get to do that? Someone gave me seven minutes to stand and talk in front of politicians and HCPs [Healthcare Professionals] and my peers with diabetes. It was fantastic getting to do that.”

She also says Family Weekenders are the highlight of her year “I come away with such a warm feeling of happy exhaustion.” She feels they made her step out of her comfort zone but she’s really proud of herself for doing so because “stepping out of your comfort zone is where fun things happen.” She particularly loves helping the children at the family events paint t-shirts, because she can remember doing the same thing at the family group she attended as a child.

She feels diabetes is something that takes her to places, rather than being the burden that it can be for some. She’s found sometimes diabetes meetings can be negative, but she brings a more positive energy “I love being a hype queen for diabetes.”

Learning new skills and having an impact

From facilitating peer support groups and being a team leader at Family Weekenders, Kirsty says she’s learned a lot about mediating, and finding the middle ground when working with people who have differing opinions. She has a lot more confidence, and feels it’s such an honour when people value her opinion.

Kirsty’s volunteering has made an impact on other people living with and affected by diabetes. She can see she’s given parents hope for their children’s future, and shown that diabetes is not something to be afraid of.

Looking to the future

In the future, Kirsty’s looking forward to “more Family Weekenders, more Tech Collective, more of everything.” The peer support groups Kirsty’s been involved in before have often tailed away, because there aren’t many other volunteers the same age as her in Glasgow. But some of the Together Type 1 Young Leaders are becoming too old for the programme, so Kirsty is looking forward to opportunities to volunteer with some of them.

A message for others

Kirsty’s message for anyone considering volunteering is “just do it, you’ll not regret it.” Along with the skills she’s learned, and experiences she’s had along the way, she says “I’ve made friends for life through volunteering who’ve made such a positive impact on my life.”

If you’ve been inspired by Kirsty’s story, get in touch with Diabetes Scotland, or take a look at our current volunteering opportunities.

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