Future of diabetes: the big conversation – by Emma Bostock

Over the next few months we’re running a series of Big Conversation events around the UK, bringing together hundreds of people affected by diabetes to talk about how we can work together to create a world where diabetes can do no harm.

The events are part of the Future of Diabetes project, which will hear from thousands of ordinary people over the next few months, through these events, surveys and focus groups. The first Big Conversation event took place last weekend – Saturday 3 June – in London.

Emma, who has Type 1 diabetes and works as an actor, went along and shares her take on the day.

As a Type 1 diabetic of 10-and-a-half years, I have grown rather passionate about living with diabetes. When the opportunity to apply for a place at Diabetes UK’s very first ‘Big Conversation’ event arose, I leapt at the chance and was ecstatic to be selected. For me, any opportunity to speak to another diabetic is an enlightening experience. It’s not very often nearly everyone in the room has diabetes!

Upon arrival at the event I felt immediately at ease thanks to the extremely welcoming and organised Diabetes UK team members (from start to finish they were absolutely brilliant!) They directed me to the room where the event would be held and supplied tea, coffee and fruit for everyone to start the day. The event room was already full of various characters that had gravitated towards chairs set out at tables. Some individuals had already began to engage in conversation, whilst others remained reserved, waiting upon an upcoming ice breaker to ease them into the day.

As the room began to fill out, it was amazing to see such a diverse mix of people in attendance, from Type 1 to Type 2 and even parents of children with diabetes, bringing to light that diabetes really can affect anybody.

The event began with an introductory chat from the Diabetes UK team. They addressed the reason as to why The Big Conversation events are running and how we all need to work in partnership “for a world where diabetes can do no harm.”

Lots of different experiences and similarities

After the introductory chat, the morning focused on working in groups to discuss various topics and answer questions based on living with Diabetes. The topics ranged from healthcare experience to the most frustrating thing for you individually about diabetes. From the outset it was very clear that in my group everyone really did have a lot to say. It was apparent that although everyone had experienced very different things throughout their diabetic lifetime, there were still an underlying slew of similarities.

Listening to everyone in the group speaking so candidly about their experiences was extremely motivating and uplifting. Hearing these stories and sharing with others really does assure you that you are absolutely not alone. This further impacts how important it is to discuss, share and work together; to eventually, one day, find a cure for diabetes.

After going over some of the top points established by each group in the morning session we then had a break for lunch, kindly provided by the Diabetes UK team. During the lunch break, the event photographer took some exciting photographs of various individuals for an upcoming promo. (I won’t give anything away as I don’t want to spoil the excitement!) The lunch break was also an opportunity for people to be filmed answering various questions for a Diabetes UK campaign video. It’s safe to say that my face will be making an appearance!

Thinking to the future

After lunch, we reconvened to begin the afternoon activity. This session was very different to the morning, which kept things fresh and exciting. The main topic for the afternoon was thinking to the future. The Diabetes UK team set up three zones focusing on a particular question where were allowed to wander freely in and out of. You were able to drop in and out, giving your opinion or simply listening to others. These open zone discussions really did bring out the passion and determination for a better future for diabetes. It was clear that some individuals had an abundance of thoughts and opinions to offer, which sparked various leads into other areas relating to the question at hand.

Overall, for me, the day was fantastic. I really did feel part of a solid community of individuals who are all just as determined as each other to help make positive changes regarding diabetes. The people who joined me in the room that day all had a story to tell and were extremely inspiring; each one as amazing as the next, not only living with diabetes, but for some, other conditions and complications.

What matters the most is that we are all here, together, ready to tackle diabetes as a team, a family. I would encourage everybody affected by diabetes to attend The Big Conversation if they have a chance. And to get involved with Diabetes UK and the fantastic work they are doing every day. If you can come away from the event feeling as optimistic and uplifted as I did, you really are in for a great day.

Find a Big Conversation event near you

Emma Bostock’s blog

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