Chief Executive’s first post – by Barbara Young


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Today we’ve got a first blog post from our Chief Executive, Barbara Young. She’ll be writing regularly about the work we’re doing as a charity, and what she’s been getting up to herself. Over to Barbara…

“February launched with a bang, with our new powerful brand – Diabetes UK: Care, Connect, Campaign. It’s already had lots of reaction, mostly positive, though with some wistfulness for the pink hummingbird. To be thrifty, we are introducing the new brand gradually as stocks run down. My new frock in corporate colours to replace the old pink one was £16 from Tesco. Very Tesco, very Barbara Young…

The profile of diabetes has been high this month with not only the brand launch, but also Diabetes UK grasping the opportunity of a BBC Radio 4 File on Four programme to highlight the lack of effectiveness of the NHS vascular screening healthcheck for, among other conditions, diabetes, the high level of avoidable early deaths and the geographic variability of some key services. Media work around the programme got diabetes and Diabetes UK across much of TV and radio news.

Meantime, more nights on the backshift in the House of Lords on the hotly controversial Health and Social Care Bill. Working with other charities, we have proposed how the Bill needs to be amended to try to safeguard the interests of people with diabetes and other long term conditions better. But the voting arithmetic makes achieving change highly unlikely. I’m still amazed at how many people watch late night sessions on the Parliamentary channel, which is surely riveting for those interested in the fine print of amendments, but otherwise much like watching paint dry! Still, it is gratifying that some people are hearing my impassioned speeches about what needs fixed in diabetes care.

Our new Council of People with Diabetes has been meeting to advise the charity from the perspective of people with diabetes and what a lively lot they are, with shedloads of good ideas. Their input will be crucial as we develop new services. We launched a new service – our Peer Support Scheme – this month with volunteers who have gone through similar experiences and got the t-shirt, linked up by phone or email to people who want to talk things through with someone who understands.

I also met the Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House who was very clued up about diabetes after a visit to a research project in Cambridge. The message is getting everywhere!

Next week I’m off to our professional conference in Glasgow with everybody who is anybody in the diabetes professions. Sort of ultimate speed dating. Watch this space.”

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Still have my doubts about the new ‘brand’. The slogan ‘Care, Connect, Campaign’ sounds as if it belongs to Connect, the very successful organisation for people with aphasia – who really want ways to connect. Same colour scheme too.

As a member of the Edinburgh Voluntary Group I am looking forward to meeting you at Edinburgh Napier University tomorrow where you are giving the Betsy Sinclair Memorial Lecture.