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'Community champions are helping people with type 2 diabetes make changes.'

Diabetes UK Community Champion Tabassuma Akramul, who features on BBC1's Inside Out programme (East Midlands), highlights the importance of raising awareness of Type 2 diabetes within her community and family members.




Diabetes UK community champion Tabassuma Akramul is featured on BBC1's Inside Out programme.


I’m in my third year of Medical Science at Leicester De Montfort University. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine from the year above recommended getting involved in the Diabetes UK Community Champions programme.

I met some other champions and people working on the project, Dr Ketan Ruparelia and Nazmin Juma, who told me what it was about - getting out to meet people and talk about diabetes - and I decided to train up.

There is a lot of type 2 diabetes in my family. My dad has it, my mum is at high risk, and there are lots of aunts and uncles with it too. 

I have always been worried me and my siblings would get it. My grandfather has taken it very seriously and is managing it really well, and he’s a great example for everyone. He talks with everyone about his diet and goes for a walk every morning. He’s a model for everyone. But when my dad was diagnosed in 2006, he didn’t take it so seriously. Now he does – with his diet, physical activity and managing it. 

I do have some aunts who haven’t always taken it seriously. But after I trained as a community champion I did a family event on diabetes at a get together we had. I gave out some leaflets and a bit of an informal talk on it. My aunts were interested and took the leaflets, particularly the diet ones in different languages. I have also taken part in events in Birmingham and Derby, but mainly it’s local events in Leicester: at the Pride and Mela, and lots of small events at libraries and schools to spread information about diabetes.

I was asked by Debbie Tinsley at DMU Local, the programme that runs Community Champions for De Montfort university, if I was interested in being filmed for TV. When they first offered, I wasn’t aware how big it would be! But it was a great opportunity to spread more information so I signed up myself - and pretty soon, I signed up my family too. A crew from BBC1's Inside Out  (East Midlands) came to film at my house – they looked at what shopping we do and food we eat.

They also came and filmed at a school, and at the Leicester Mela too, as we met with the public and helped them find out their risk of developing type 2.

All of us champions need to help people find out how to take care of themselves properly, follow a healthy diet and make small changes to get more active and make a big difference in their lives.

Tabassuma Akramul

But the main focus of the programme follows my mum as she finds out whether she has type 2 diabetes. She was excited to take part, which was great. In the Asian community, often people don’t want to discuss having a condition. You will need to watch the programme to see how it goes.

Thanks to the filming I met lots of people from the diabetes community. I’m looking to become a diabetes specialist so it has been a great experience. 

People need to understand why we do champions work. Even if people find out they are high risk during an assessment, they won’t necessarily take it seriously – all of us champions need to help them find out how to take care of themselves properly, follow a healthy diet and make small changes to get more active and make a big difference in their lives. 

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