Our commitment to fighting injustice and discrimination

Diabetes Week is the time we come together and celebrate what we can achieve as a strong and united diabetes community. Recent events have demanded that people around the world, rightly, ask themselves what they can and should be doing differently to address the inequalities faced in our society by black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. At Diabetes UK we take our responsibility to do the same very seriously.  

The recent publication of data showing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities, combined with the international outcry following the killing of George Floyd, have together brought this responsibility into sharp focus for us. 

Diabetes UK was built on the principles of inclusivity and of fighting inequality wherever it exists – we are committed to being an organisation that is anti-racist, and anti-discrimination. And as we commit to doing our part to tackle inequalities in our society, we know we can do more, we know we can do better, and we know we have a long way to go. 

Tackling the inequalities that people living with and at risk of diabetes face is a fundamental part of our recently launched strategy. But the impact of COVID-19 has made the issues many already face far worse, so we have focused our immediate action on where we believe it will make the greatest difference: 

  • We are urging the Government to fully investigate the reasons why BAME people are at greater risk from COVID-19, so that action can be taken now to reduce this risk, as well as reduce long-standing health inequalities. 
  • We are working with the NHS to prioritise prevention services to target those at highest risk of developing type 2 diabetes in BAME communities. 
  • We are continuing to make our information and services as accessible as possible to everyone, including to those who are digitally excluded. 
  • We are working to understand how to best reach and support people with diabetes in BAME and more deprived communities, who are finding it hard to access healthy food, have worries about returning to work and feel less able to manage their diabetes well. 
  • We are calling for the NHS to identify people with diabetes  who, as the data has clearly shown, are at increased risk because of their ethnicity, age, HbA1c, BMI or complications and to make sure they have the support they need to manage their risk (through healthcare, and protection in their workplace and community). 

Our voice is strongest when it reflects the lived experience of everyone we represent and serve. But we know that we must do more to ensure that the voices of BAME communities, colleagues and volunteers are shaping our work. We commit to listening, hearing, and responding to what you tell us, and we are taking action to strengthen your voices at all levels of decision-making in our organisation. To do this we are: 

  • Setting up a BAME staff network and an external reference group of volunteers and community representatives, to ensure that BAME experiences and views are represented, heard, and are reflected in all aspects of our work.  
  • Developing an action plan to increase diversity amongst our senior staff, our Board of Trustees, and other governance bodies.  

In the longer term we know we need to do more to ensure that Diabetes UK represents the people affected by inequalities, and that all of us who work or volunteer for the charity, have the skills and behaviours to tackle inequality wherever we find it.  

We don’t have all the answers today. But we know that it’s by listening, and learning, and through collective action, that we can do better.  

It is right that we’re held accountable for our actions, and so this short update is the beginning of our commitment to you, to do our part in tackling the unjust inequalities faced by millions of people living with and at risk of diabetes. 

Diabetes is relentless. But, together, so are we. 

For the latest updates on coronavirus and diabetes, go to www.diabetes.org.uk/coronavirus

If you or someone you know is having a tough time, please call our helpline on 0345 123 2399 or chat with the diabetes community on our forum.  

To share your thoughts on our approach, please email feedback@diabetes.org.uk

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