The Power of Networking – By Andy Broomhead

It’s been great to see so many blogs reinforcing how good it is to talk about our diabetes and the positive impact that can have on our lives.  I wanted to focus on a bit of a variation on that theme this month and look at how we talk about helping others.


On Saturday I attended an event run by the Northern & Yorkshire office of Diabetes UK.  The main purpose was to get voluntary group members and individual volunteers together to meet, share experiences and tips and go through some training more specific to their individual needs.  I was there in my capacity as Chair of the Sheffield Group so I got to take part in  some training on welcoming members into groups.


What was great was hearing about how each group had a different approach to organising their own meetings, how to interact with new members and what different ideas they had for their own groups.  It was interesting to see that some groups had overcome problems that others were facing and were able to share their own successes and point out the pitfalls.


The training was really refreshing as it really set out what a good group should be doing in a number of different areas to be able to give the best level of support to the people who need it most – its members.  Sometimes it can be easy to overlook some of the basics so it was good to be able to discuss things and come away with notes and a renewed sense of enthusiasm.


Our group has been going through some changes this year and these will continue well into 2015.  It’s important that we continue to adapt to meet the changing needs of both our members and the wider diabetic community in Sheffield.   We’re looking at how we can champion the needs of people in the city whilst balancing that with raising both money and awareness.  We’re taking a more active role in areas we’ve previously been less involved in which I think is a hugely positive step – this week we wrote an official response to the National Diabetes Audit‘s findings in Sheffield  and we’re looking into campaigning at new events too.


I think that this evolutionary phase our group is in can apply to us as individuals as well.  We constantly have to adapt to every changing circumstances to ensure we stay in the best shape and we take heart from the successes and learn from the pitfalls.  And of course we benefit a lot from networking.  Whilst groups are sharing best practice for attracting new members, we as individuals share tips on how to avoid that post exercise rise in blood glucose or compare war stories about night-time BG tests.


Charlotte’s recent blog summed it all up pretty well I think – “It’s good to talk”.  That’s true whether you’re a new group or a well established one, a newly diagnosed diabetic or someone who’s been managing it for 15 years.   The only way we can learn is by communicating – we shouldn’t be so set in our ways that we’re not open to new ideas or new ways of doing things.


As an individual, if you’re looking for support, you’ll almost certainly find it on one form of social media, getting involved in Diabetes UK’s Talk To Someone hangouts, or with your local Diabetes UK group.  I speak from experience when I say you’re always welcome at a meeting and that power of networking can be immensely helpful, whatever situation you’re in.


On a personal note, I recently ran the Yorkshire Marathon for Diabetes UK and have raised over £800 so far.  Thanks to everyone who’s supported me this year.

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