Volunteers’ Week – by Andy Broomhead, Head of Volunteering at Diabetes UK

June 1-7 is Volunteers’ Week – a national celebration of the work that volunteers do for organisations across the country, and here at Diabetes UK we’re incredibly fortunate to have thousands of passionate people who donate their time to help us accomplish so much.

Since becoming Head of Volunteering, I’ve really been struck by how wide-reaching the impact of our volunteers truly is.  I’ve also had numerous conversations in these first few weeks where people have said “I didn’t know I could do that for Diabetes UK”, and so I wanted to use this post to talk more about the breadth of volunteering opportunity at Diabetes UK, and to say thank you to everyone who supports us.

Community

The easiest place to start is possibly our Local Groups.  Diabetes UK has almost 400 groups across the country and volunteers play a huge part in reaching people affected by diabetes in communities in all parts of the UK.  Traditional local groups are now supplemented by informal community groups, fundraising groups and our incredibly powerful family groups who support children with diabetes and their families.

Our Community Champions play a vital role in educating people about diabetes and raise awareness of the condition in specific communities up and down the country.  This blog by Krishna Sarda, our Engaging Communities Manager, outlines the work involved in reaching out to communities where the prevalence of diabetes is high.

Campaigns

We have a huge number of volunteers involved in campaigning and service improvement for people with diabetes. Our Diabetes Voices sign petitions, highlight our national campaigns in their local area, meet with MPs and much more.  Our campaigners have helped us reform how children with diabetes must be cared for in schools and have done lots to highlight the importance of good footcare.  Our Service Champions meet with the NHS and influence how local care is provided for people with diabetes.

Volunteers play a significant part in overseeing how the charity is run too.  Our Trustees are volunteers, as our members of the Council of People Living with Diabetes (who act as a sounding board for the Trustees and staff).  The Council of Healthcare Professionals is an advisory body to the charity and is made up of respected healthcare professionals from across the country.

Research

Diabetes UK is the largest charitable funder of diabetes research in the UK so it’s no surprise to find volunteers at the heart of that as well.  Our Grants Advisory Panel (information at the bottom of the linked page) ensures we involve people living with diabetes in our research funding process.  Our Clinical Studies Groups involve people affected by diabetes, and healthcare professionals in making sure that the quality of clinical diabetes research applications is as high as possible.  This blog from Anna Morris, our Head of Research Funding explains the process.

And so much more

Volunteers ensure our Type 1 Events run smoothly and allow families affected by diabetes to come together, share experiences and make friends.  Our Young Adults Panel met for the first time last month and gives those aged 18-30 with diabetes the chance to come together and help shape the work of the charity.

We do, of course, have an army of tireless fundraisers  who spend hours in their communities raising funds to help support people affected all around the country, and we’re in awe of those tackling marathons, cycling races, and the recently finalised Swim 22 and much more.  Our office volunteers help us in a wide variety of ways including admin support, research and events whilst our Speaker Volunteers give talks about raising the awareness of diabetes.

Thank you!

Hopefully that gives you some sense of how our volunteers really do affect every single thing that we do.  So, on behalf of Diabetes UK, we’d just like to say…

If you want to know more about volunteering here at Diabetes UK, our Volunteering page tells you how to get involved. Thanks again, and Happy Volunteers’ Week!

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