Know your risk carried out by Community Champions – Tania Aubeelack
Rani and Sasi, our two most active Tamil Community Champions in Ealing, decided to carry out a diabetes risk assessment using the Diabetes UK online Know Your Risk tool during their regular awareness stalls at the Ealing SKAT Temple.
The Engaging Communities team wanted to enhance the quality of our engagement with the Tamil Community, who do not like to read, did not have time for it, do not want to share their issues, or are not necessarily very comfortable in English. We carried out our very first online Know Your Risk event in the Tamil community on Friday 12 May and a second one on Friday 2 June.
It proved to be a success for two main reasons: the community came to us instead of us, Champions, shouting and chasing them – this greatly enhanced the quality of our conversations. I was really happy that so many people came to get their measurements done. They were asking all sort of questions, they were interested and concerned about diabetes, food and their weight.
A man kindly showed me some pictures of him doing yoga; a woman asked me what her ideal weight should be and a lady, recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, wanted to keep in touch with us so that we could help to support her and her husband.
I must say that, with a community still proving to be hard to engage with and reach out to, our team felt that the two events were productive, worthwhile and interactive. We are really trying to create a presence in this Temple and we hope to increase our influence in the near future. Two of our key future objectives are to encourage the Temple to buy a height and a weighing scale and to get them to swap their paper plate with a plastic plate divided into sections. The latter will help the public to get into the habit of eating less during the food service. It is an indirect way of influencing the eating patterns and behaviours of the community.
A couple of men and women were quite shocked when they saw their weight and waist. Many of them had a large waist measurement beyond the recommended limit of 37 inch for men and 31.5 inch for women. I found it concerning. Given that they belong to a high risk group, being overweight and having a large waist measurement push their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes really high. During these events, I came across at least four people of working age, with at least two children aged between 4-15 years old, living with Type 2 diabetes.
This is a hard reality that I find extremely concerning and difficult to come to terms with. Many people aged between 40-50 years old are really finding it tough because they work long hours, they have a family to look after and they have a deep and strong attachment to their culture and way of life.
The presence of Community Champions is needed more than ever in this Temple. I came across a young man diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes about six months ago. He told me that he has stopped his prescribed metformin because he was not feeling any symptoms and did not feel it was necessary. I quickly raised my concerns to him knowing that he did not say anything to his GP. I am glad that he actively listened to my advice and promise to raise this issue with his GP. As Community Champions, whenever and wherever we go, we always follow the principle that if we manage to change the life of only one person for the better we have surely accomplished something extraordinary.