Today’s blog comes from Nicola Curtis, Regional Media Officer for Diabetes UK in the South West.
It’s World Diabetes Day and so the perfect opportunity to highlight a condition which affects a staggering 4.8 million people in the UK, including almost a million living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a serious and complicated condition with many different types. What each type has in common is how it causes those affected to have excess glucose (sugar) in their blood. If not managed well, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to devastating complications including amputations and sight loss.
We know that people living with diabetes have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19. In fact, around a third of those dying in England from Covid-19 have diabetes.
Research has also shown that there are certain risk factors that make someone more susceptible to a poor outcome from Covid-19. Those risk factors include being from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic group, increased age, a BMI over 30, a history of high HbA1c (average blood sugar levels over the course of a few months) or complications such as heart failure or kidney disease.
Diabetes UK’s south west team are working hard to make an impact in Bristol, and we are particularly looking to reach out to those who may be at increased risk, as well as those less able to access vital resources.
Recently, we recruited and trained four Bristol Community Champions to support us in reaching and engaging with communities.
At the beginning of November, in partnership with Bristol’s Health Links and Sirona care and health, staff delivered an online information and education session to members of the Somali community. Focussing on the basics of diabetes, diabetes management and managing Covid-19 and flu risk, the session was translated into Somali throughout.
Well-attended, the virtual event followed on from a similar face-to-face event last year which was supported by Lyndsey Gethin of Café de Amis at Easton Community Centre. It’s anticipated that more will be run in the future.
In another partnership with Sirona, the south west team has now secured funding from NHS England to run a BAME focussed Language Matters project across Bristol. The project will build on work completed in the region over the past couple of years, which includes the translation of sick day rules (how to manage your diabetes when ill) into 12 different languages.
We have three local groups for people with diabetes here in Bristol and the surrounding area. Bristol Central is a group for people with type 1 diabetes, while Bristol East and Bristol West welcome those with any type of diabetes.
The groups are run by volunteers and the aim is to offer much-needed support. While not offering medical advice, the networks have strong links with local health professionals who provide expert speakers on a range of topics. Although unable to meet up in person at the moment, the Bristol Diabetes Support Network Group are getting together regularly online.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial for people to have access to information about their health and how to manage their conditions.
If you’d like further information on the work of Diabetes UK in the south west or would like to get in touch with a local Bristol group, please give us a call on 01823 448260 or email us at South.West@diabetes.org.uk. We’d love to hear from you.