Fifteen Lewisham residents from mainly Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds have been supporting their communities to better understand the potentially devastating consequences of diabetes. This comprehensive training and support programme for Community Champions was funded by NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group as a part of its strategy to improve Diabetes Care and was provided by Diabetes UK.
The group, who trained as part of the Diabetes UK Community Champions programme, received awards for their work at a celebration event on Thursday 14 November 2013 at the Broadway Theatre in Catford.
Since the group completed their training in July, they have carried out 24 separate awareness raising events in the borough, reaching an estimated 1,000 residents. The group has pledged to continue to raise awareness with support from Diabetes UK, Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group and Lewisham Council.
Type 2 diabetes is a growing problem in Lewisham, and latest figures show there are now 15,382 people with diabetes in the borough – with one in five unaware they have the condition. This is expected to soar to nearly 18,400 residents by the end of the decade. People from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds are at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than the White European population, with people from South Asian backgrounds six times more likely and people from African and Caribbean backgrounds three times more likely.
Each Champion received a certificate for their work, presented by Dr Charles Gosling of NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group. One champion, Hanh Dang, won a special award for showing her audience an animated film about diabetes while translating into Vietnamese at the same time.
Hanh-Dang said: “I decided to become a Community Champion because I realised that the risk of diabetes in Vietnamese people is very high. The award means a lot to me, and it proves my work is useful for the Vietnamese community. But as a Community Champion I want to gain more knowledge about diabetes and share it with everyone – not only the Vietnamese community – as I know many people are living with the condition.”
Casey Collyer, Diabetes UK Diverse Communities Officer for London, said: “We are very proud of all the hard work our champions have put into training and then raising awareness of diabetes in Lewisham.
“Type 2 diabetes is one of the biggest public health challenges facing London today and these champions will hopefully signpost those living with the condition to their local diabetes services. We also hope they will encourage other people they come into contact with to get assessed for their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.”
“We want this programme to leave a legacy of greater awareness and understanding of diabetes in these communities. We are very proud that our champions have reached an estimated 1,000 people already and hope that each of those reached will also spread awareness among their friends and family. This ‘snowball effect’ will hopefully lead to better health for diabetes patients in the borough and an increased number of people getting diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes early, thus avoiding potentially devastating complications.”
Dr Hilary Entwistle, local GP and Clinical Director at NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Our community champions are doing an amazing job raising awareness locally about Type 2 diabetes, and it’s a subject that we all need to face up to if we are going to tackle the rising number of people developing the disease and the high numbers of people who are struggling to manage their condition.
“As a GP I see people for short appointment slots, but that’s often not enough to really be able to offer the kind of practical advice and emotional support that people may need. That’s where our champions can offer something that really makes a difference”.
If you would like a champion to visit your event or organisation to talk about diabetes, get in touch with Caroline Townsend on 020 7424 1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.