Leading charity Diabetes UK is running regular online sessions for adults in Somerset living with type 1 diabetes. Designed to help remove the isolation often felt by people who have the condition, each event is relaxed and informal and welcomes everyone over the age of 18.
#TheBig1, as it is known, originally launched as a one-off face-to-face event in 2018 for older teens and young adults. It was a big success and a follow-up had been planned for June 2020. When the pandemic struck, instead of cancelling, Diabetes UK’s South West team who run the event decided to continue online. While the aim is still to get those living with the condition chatting to each other, the format has been adapted to suit a virtual audience and the age range has been broadened.
Each session now lasts for an hour and a half and has a different theme every time. Hosted by staff from the South West office the agenda usually includes guest speakers, and participants are encouraged to share their own experiences if they feel comfortable to do so.
The subjects tackled to date have been wide-ranging. In June, type 1 diabetes and emotional well-being was the topic for discussion. With clinical psychologist, Dr Rose Stewart, and a local diabetes specialist nurse as guests, the session was very well attended. In September, sport and exercise with type 1 diabetes was the issue of the day. The speakers on that occasion were British professional boxer Muhammad Ali who lives with type 1, and consultant in diabetes and endocrinology, Dr Robert Andrews.
Sue Briggs who is a regular attendee said: “I’ve managed to attend all the #TheBig1 events so far. They are very well managed with input from the start on the specified topic, as well as ensuring that people’s questions are answered throughout.
“It’s great to see these events attracting such a wide audience and so good to be able to listen to people’s experiences.
“I’m certain I wouldn’t have been able to attend so many had they not been online, so it’s good to see a positive come out of the current situation.”
While Luisa Moccia whose daughter Sabrina died in 2016 from complications as a result of her type 1 diabetes, and whose charity Sabrina’s Mile helped fund the inaugural event in her memory said: “Sabrina often spoke to me about feeling isolated so I am grateful to Diabetes UK in helping people to understand their condition, get support and to know that they are not alone living with diabetes.
“Sabrina, I am sure, would have greatly benefitted from this event and I find it quite emotional that her legacy is playing a small part in helping others in their daily lives living with diabetes.
“Sabrina would be so proud as it was in her nature to always care and help others.”
The next event, planned for the 16th December at 7pm, will be about eating well with type 1 diabetes. Comedian Tiernan Douieb, who lives with type 1, and a specialist diabetes dietitian, will join to provide advice and guidance on food choices – as well as how to deal with all those mince pies and Christmas puddings. Diabetes UK’s Improving Care Manager in the South West, Matt Robert, who also has type 1, will be hosting.
Registration for this event is now open – https://eu.eventscloud.com/healthyeatingwithtype1diabetes
Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose in the blood because the body cannot use it properly. If not managed well, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to devastating complications. With the right treatment, knowledge and support people living with diabetes can lead a long, full and healthy life.