Savefor later Page saved! You can go back to this later in your Diabetes and Me Close

Engaging Communities: how I ensure the voices of diverse communities are heard – Vanessa’s story

Vanessa standing outside smiling

Vanessa Laber

I ensure the voices of diverse communities are at the forefront of all the work we do in improving the health of people with, or at risk of, diabetes.

Vanessa Laber, 29 is our Engaging Communities Officer for the North of England. Here she talks about the important work she does and what Black History Month means to her. 

Diabetes UK and me

Engaging communities

I ensure the voices of diverse communities are at the forefront of all the work we do in improving the health of people with, or at risk of, diabetes.

People from Black African and Black Caribbean origins are up to three times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, from a younger age, than people of a white European background. These communities are not hard to reach but are often unheard. So, we need to listen to our diverse communities and empower them by providing information and support, and to bridge the gap by bringing health care professionals to the communities.

We saw how the pandemic disproportionately impacted both people living with diabetes and people from a Black background. Not everyone has the same outcomes in healthcare.


My impact

I liaise directly with organisations supporting diverse communities, community groups, and places of worship. I provide a range of diabetes information and training and liaise with the NHS to ensure people from a Black background have access to the support and services they need. 

I also train Community Champions to deliver diabetes awareness in their communities. These are volunteers, most often from a diverse ethnic background, who are likely to have personal experience with diabetes. They are passionate about diabetes prevention and ensuring people living with diabetes live well.  

As a Black woman, I understand the impact of marginalisation, and some of the challenges Black people face in accessing appropriate services, care and support.

At Diabetes UK, we are experts in diabetes knowledge. My role is about building trust within individual communities and learning from them. They are experts who understand the cultural nuances and unique challenges within their communities the best.

I’ve been so impressed with the way the charity is engaging with diverse communities. We have actively sought and recruited a more diverse board of trustees, recruited Engaging Communities Officers across the regions of England, and made unconscious bias training and active bystander training available to all staff. 


Black History Month

Though we do this work all year round, Black History Month is important to me both personally and professionally. People from Black backgrounds have provided vital contributions to British history for centuries but are often overlooked and underappreciated.

Personally, Black History Month provides me with allyship, solidarity and celebration. It reminds me that my life matters just as much as anyone else’s. 
In a professional sense, it reminds us of the need for racial equity and acknowledging and addressing that we may have different needs based on our individual lived experiences.

Back to Top
Brand Icons/Telephonecheck - FontAwesomeicons/tickicons/uk