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Syed's story: Turning diabetes tragedy into change

Our volunteer, Syed

Syed Kerbalai

Has had several family members who live with type 2 diabetes

It's easy to hear the voice that tells us that we can't make a change, nor improve these situations. By volunteering and giving back, I've found that it is possible to make real change.

Syed has experienced firsthand how type 2 diabetes can affect families and communities. After losing several family members to the condition, he decided to turn tragedy into change and become a volunteer at Diabetes UK and a Community Champion, educating his community about prioritising their health and making changes for their wellbeing. 


Finding determination through loss

My volunteering story starts with my family. In fact, my experience of diabetes has actually been as a result of seeing family members struggle with the condition. Within my close family I've seen several early preventable deaths from type 2 diabetes - including my dad, mum, and sister. Going through this has had an impact on me, both in terms of the sadness I've felt, but also the determination to make a change in my family and beyond.

Unfortunately, in some communities I've known, I've experienced firsthand a lack of understanding of nutrition and the effects that certain foods and drinks can have on the body. In the environment I grew up in, this has often been related to people not prioritising their health and wellbeing, and instead focusing on family and work commitments.

Diabetes UK and me

Linking up with Diabetes UK

During many years of trying to encourage changes in my family, I was introduced to volunteering with Diabetes Scotland by the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society (SABS), who work in the community with a huge range of healthcare charities. I’ve now been volunteering with SABS for over three years and with Diabetes Scotland for two years.

Volunteering with Diabetes Scotland has so far involved peer support training and taking my first steps in becoming a Diabetes UK Community Champion. I also I attend plenty of events, and share important information about diabetes within my local community to continually raise awareness of the condition.

Working with people to achieve positive change for all is a key principle that I aspire towards and hopefully I’m continuing to achieve my goal. I always felt as though I had an understanding of diabetes, but working with people to hear their experiences has helped me to learn more. Ultimately, my goal is to create better health outcomes. To do that I know that it's important to always gain more knowledge from the medical community, and hear about the personal experiences of us volunteers.


Raising awareness and sharing stories

By volunteering with Diabetes Scotland and continuously raising awareness, my hope is that individual behavioural changes result in a greater understanding of diabetes and better outcomes for all families and communities to ultimately improve early preventable deaths. 

When we feel at our lowest points due to family and community circumstances, it's easy to hear the voice that tells us that we can't make a change, nor improve these situations. By volunteering and giving back, I've found that it is possible to make real change. Not only that but it fills a mental health need too. I've found that with personal determination, I can make a change to truly benefit those around me - through empathy, kindness, and charity - so that others don't feel the void that I felt.

It's important to share these personal stories and to reassure all those suffering with diabetes that they're not alone.

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