Peer Support – By Andy Broomhead




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There should be little doubt that living with diabetes can sometimes be difficult to the point of making you feel overwhelmed.

Having a good support network is key to helping you manage the times where you feel like you’re not sure where to turn or what to do for the best. Many of us are fortunate enough to have a group of close friends or a supportive family to help us when we need it; to listen to our problems and offer a sympathetic ear.

Some people are a little less fortunate or may even feel worried or embarrassed about revealing a particular problem or concern to someone they have a close relationship with. In these cases, Peer Support can be an effective tool for people with diabetes.

Peer Support is an incredibly valuable service that’s run on a purely volunteer basis aimed at providing anyone affected by diabetes, whether it’s you with the condition or you’re a parent or carer for someone with diabetes. All volunteers go through training provided by Diabetes UK to ensure they’re able to listen to whatever you have to say and provided support, advice or guidance wherever possible. Anyone can get in contact via phone or e-mail and you can read more about it on the Peer Support page

Recently I’ve become involved, along with another volunteer Louise, in a new strand of localised Peer Support that is being piloted by Diabetes UK. The overall aim is to be able to offer the same Peer Support service described above, but also offer informal support in a more social environment on a group or face to face basis within our own local areas.

Louise and I are offering Peer Support online on Twitter and Facebook as well as writing a shared blog about the service. We’re also hoping that there’ll be a dedicated Peer Support section on the Diabetes UK forums fairly soon.

On a local level, we’re hoping we can promote the service by getting local doctors and healthcare professionals on board and by asking our diabetes specialist teams to make sure everyone in hospital clinics knows what we have to offer. As interest hopefully grows, we’ll be looking to arrange informal meetings for people to get to know each other.

Our new Peer Support work hasn’t been going very long but it’s starting to gather momentum and the more we can spread the word, the more we’ll be able to help people affected by diabetes with anything they might need.

Louise and I aren’t experts with years of medical training, but we do have a wealth of experience in living with diabetes and know that sometimes, having someone who’s able to listen will do you the world of good.

If you want to find out more about what we’re hoping to achieve, please visit our Peer Support Blog which also details how to get in touch with us by e-mail.

You can also connect with us in the following ways:

Andy (Sheffield area)

@AndyPeerSupport
Peer Support Sheffield’s Facebook Page

Louise (South East)

@LouPeerSupport
Peer Support South East’s Facebook Page

If you’ve got something that’s been troubling you then please consider using Peer Support as a means of unburdening yourself. We use the hashtag #talktosomeone on Twitter so if you need help, support or advice then do Talk To Someone.

Important: All Peer Support volunteers have been through training and checks to ensure you’re always discussing any issues in a safe environment. Your details will be kept confidential at all times.

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Hi David – thanks for your comment.

I think that the availability of education programmes (such as DAFNE) is quite dependent on where you live which is a problem.

I’d agree that it’s not easy to find out what’s available on a local level (such as voluntary groups or support services) unless you’re actively looking. I only found out about my local group from my specialist nurse, not from my GP. (you can find out your local group here: http://www.diabetes.org.uk/How_we_help/Local_support_groups/Find-a-local-support-group/ )

In terms of Peer Support, it’s my aim to try and ensure GPs in Sheffield are aware of what’s going on, and asking them to promote it wherever possible. It won’t be easy but hopefully it’ll yield some positive results. As mentioned above, if you want to get in touch to discuss anything, please feel free (and please feel free to mention it to others!)

Thanks

I think with the findings of the latest diabetes care audit, which identified the offer and uptake of education programmes is woefully low. The need for more publicised local groups offering focus and support is needed more than ever. I do not think that GP’s are good at making patients aware of what is out there (my experience). After being diagnosed for 3 years I have never been offered a place on an educational programme, even though I have very poor management latest HcA1c reading of 91.
Awareness is the key to the success of this kind of help. But I’m glad someone is doing something