“I thoroughly enjoy it, I love being out and meeting people”- Alan Kirk, Publicity Officer for the Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Group
Meet our Volunteer Spotlight for January 2019 - Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Group
“Over the last few years we’ve really taken off, we run annual coffee mornings, concerts, sponsored walks, social trips for the members and we’ve even held a fashion show that I took part in myself” explains Alan. Local groups are a lifeline for people living with diabetes, offering support, advice and guidance in their local area. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the first Diabetes UK support group.
Alan also volunteers as a speaker, visiting other groups in the area to raise awareness of diabetes and to let people know what help is available locally. “They’ve got more understanding of diabetes after a talk. The history of it, symptoms, food and exercise. I sometimes receive a donation for the talk which goes straight into the groups funds.”
Where it all began
Founded in 1979 at the local hospital, The Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Group celebrates its 40th Anniversary this year. Alan joined the group 12 years ago when he was looking for support following his diagnosis. Soon after joining the group, an opportunity became available to join the committee that looks after the group’s publicity and events. “There is more awareness now then there ever has been. I’ve also been on local radio a few times, putting the record straight about diabetes and also to advertise the group”.
The group also holds monthly meetings to provide support, advice and guidance to its members. “We regularly book speakers to talk about health and exercise, and hold an annual open forum with a local GP, diabetes nurse and dietitian. We see all different types of people and offer a good overview of everything related to diabetes”. But the group don’t stop there. They seize every opportunity to raise awareness.
The Group’s Activities
“In 2017 we bought new equipment which is used for Know Your Risk, trained new volunteers and started attending events to help people know their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. We now have several Know Your Risk volunteers trained up.” The group now attends lots of local events, and have even started approaching local companies to raise awareness of diabetes for their staff.
The group wanted to do more. So they started to develop local partnerships to help raise more money that would really make a difference. “We have a good relationship with Matlock Lions Club, and also have support from two local branches of Nationwide, where the staff are raising money for us”.
“We’ve raised around £100,000 since 1993, and have put that money towards research, and our services over the years.” In their 40th anniversary year, each group member will raise at least £40 for the group, but it won’t stop there. The group have plans to run many more events. And they’re putting together diabetes information packs for local GP practices, targeting nearly 100 surgeries in the area. “We’re also planning to work with local pharmacies to deliver more Know Your Risk events.” A busy 2019 lays ahead.
Alan knows the importance of volunteering with his local group, and wants more people to get involved in their local area. “I’ve been doing it for so long. Even giving up an hour of your time could make a difference”.
If you have been inspired by the group’s story then be sure to get involved.