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Volunteers' Week 2023 - Susan's story

Susan Haley

"Whether you’re a former healthcare professional like me, or live with diabetes yourself, your support will be invaluable.”

Susan decided to volunteer when she retired from her role as a Specialist Diabetes Dietitian in 2022.

Starting out as a volunteer

Susan is one of our Speaker volunteers. Before she retired, she worked as a Specialist Diabetes Dietitian at Bradford Teaching Hospital and Airedale General Hospital. She also worked at local GP practices and in the community, delivering education groups for patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. 

Susan used resources from Diabetes UK a lot as part of her job “I would regularly signpost patients and other healthcare professionals to the amazing resources, and also to help me to keep up-to-date with developments in diabetes care.” When she retired, she looked for volunteering opportunities, and discovered that Diabetes UK were looking for volunteers in her area. This was ideal because “I still have a strong interest in diabetes and felt that I would like to continue to use my skills and knowledge to support people with diabetes.” 

Supporting people living with diabetes

As a new volunteer, Susan has attended a health event in her local shopping centre. She spoke to people already living with diabetes, people at risk of developing the condition, and their relatives and carers. There were lots of resources from Diabetes UK, and she was able to give people information relevant to their personal circumstances.  

More recently, Susan has supported a Community Cook and Eat group for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes. The group cook a healthy meal using a recipe from our website, then they spend time talking about their experiences of living with diabetes. Susan’s role is to answer participants’ questions and show them where to find information about living well with diabetes, including how to prevent or delay complications

Susan says her favourite part of volunteering is talking to people and finding out how best to support them and their personal situation. In her working life, she saw the benefit of people developing their knowledge of diabetes. She says “it increases their confidence, enables them to manage their diabetes, and improves their quality of life.” And she’s pleased that she’s been able to carry on supporting people like this as a volunteer since she retired.  

Plans for the future

Looking to the future, Susan is planning on attending a community health event in a local park this summer, and is hoping to attend some local community groups as a Speaker volunteer to raise awareness of diabetes. 

Susan says she’d encourage other former healthcare professionals to consider volunteering. Applying to volunteer was an easy process, and the Diabetes UK staff are very friendly and supportive. And keeping up-to-date with diabetes research and services has helped her maintain her own personal development. She’d also recommend volunteering to people living with diabetes. “I know the importance for people with diabetes to have peer support. If anybody who has diabetes feels they have time to volunteer with Diabetes UK, your peer support will be invaluable.”

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