Meet our Volunteer Spotlight for September 2020, Sheila Seabrook
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve worked with lots of different people over the years and the Diabetes UK staff have always made me feel part of the team.”
Sheila has volunteered for us since September 2010 and celebrates her 10 year anniversary this month. She helps our Content Team in the London office, is chair of her local Stevenage Group and raises awareness of diabetes in our Eastern region.
Where it all started
“I lost my partner in 2009. He had type 2 diabetes. When Pete was diagnosed, we found there was very little local help so when the doctor told him he had diabetes, he didn’t know where to go. After he died, I wanted to help Diabetes UK improve the lives of people living with diabetes and their families. I had also retired and I wanted something to help occupy my time, give me some new skills and keep my brain working!”
Volunteering in our central office
Sheila first started volunteering after she saw an advert for an opportunity supporting the team who produce our membership magazine, Balance. She successfully applied for the role and 10 years later, she’s still coming into our office once a week to help the Content Team.
The Content Team produce our publications and manage our website and Sheila has supported in various ways over the years. She’s excellent at proof reading, having an eye for spotting typos. One of the many tasks she’s helped with is working on our ‘Meds & Kits’ supplement for members, liaising with the pharmaceutical companies to make sure the contact details and other information is up to date.
“Volunteering with the Content Team has suited me so well. I’ve been able to travel into the office slightly later and managed to avoid the mad commuter rush! I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve worked with lots of different people over the years and the Diabetes UK staff have always made me feel part of the team.”
Stevenage Local Group and raising awareness in the local community
Sheila became a member of her local group in Stevenage 5 years ago and she was elected Chair of the group in 2017. In her role as Chair, she helps to coordinate group meetings and arrange for speakers to come and talk to the group. The group organises awareness stands in Stevenage town centre and at community events. They run fundraisers for the group and have taken part in events like the London Bridges Challenge. Sheila says “we’re a support network within our community and I like to think we’re there if people need us.”
Sheila also teams up with the Diabetes Specialist Nurses at her local hospital and runs information stands. She supports our Eastern office at Know Your Risk events across the region. Even if people don’t have time to stop and talk when they’re out and about, she gives out leaflets and booklets that they can take away and read in their own time and signposts to our website and helpline for further information and support.
Volunteering during the coronavirus outbreak
The Diabetes UK offices closed in March when the UK wide coronavirus lockdown came into force. Sheila hasn’t been able to come into the office, but she has continued to proof read our Balance and Professional Update publications from home. “I was so grateful I was able to continue during lockdown, it’s kept me busy.”
Although local group meetings haven’t been able to take place, the Stevenage Group have been able to meet virtually using Zoom. Sheila’s also passed regular information to the group’s members on coronavirus and diabetes and staying safe at home and managing diabetes.
Looking to the future – what’s next?
Sheila’s a keen traveller and she’s looking forward to being able to travel again. She volunteers with heritage railways in Yorkshire which is something she hasn’t been able to do during lockdown but will pick up again as soon as she can.
“Volunteering for Diabetes UK has been a continuity in my life”, Sheila reflects, “I regard myself as being part of the Diabetes UK family. I really enjoy it and I’m hoping I can carry on. I want to keep supporting the community and I’m looking forward to getting back to the office too.”
If you’ve been inspired by Sheila’s story, find out more about our volunteering opportunities.