Diabetes UK visited De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) to train 12 students to become Community Champions, helping people to become of aware of diabetes and manage the condition.
The session was run through DMU Square Mile, the university’s community outreach programme, and they are now preparing to help communities learn more about the condition that affects more three million people in the UK alone.
Diabetes UK is the leading charity for raising awareness and providing support for all of those who suffer from or are at risk of diabetes in the UK.
Diabetes UK’s Engaging Communities Manager, Krishna Sarda, came to speak to the student volunteers to prepare them for their roles as Community Champions after being contacted by DMU’s Dr Ketan Ruparelia, Research Technician, and Nazmin Juma, Senior Technician.
Krishna said: “I’d been in touch with Ketan and Nazmin who have previous experience with educating communities and they asked if we were interested in working together and what DMU does through Square Mile is exactly what we at Diabetes UK are all about.
“It’s so refreshing to see an educational organisation so keen to help us raise awareness and wanting to actually engage with their community and have a difference in people’s lives.
“I’m hoping that each of the DMU volunteers, once they’re trained as Community Champions, will undertake six events a year to directly engage with local communities to raise awareness of diabetes and to help those that have it already to better manage it. The Community Champions scheme is designed to educate communities and bridge the gap between clinical practice and the reality of living with diabetes.”
Ketan added: “Nazmin and I were trained as Community Champions and we felt that with Square Mile we would be able to help bridge that gap and really raise awareness.
“Now in about two weeks the student volunteers will be ready to go out and begin their community engagement work, it’s great to see them getting involved.”
For the students, there are a number of reasons behind them wanting to become Community Champions.
Baldeep Kaur, a final year Health Studies student, said: “With the course I study at DMU I want to go and work in public health and raise awareness of certain health issues. This will give me really good experience in working with the community and good health promotion as well as being able to give advice on healthy lifestyle choices to those people who are most vulnerable.”
Neha Rana, who studies Pharmacy, said: “I’m aware of how prevalent diabetes is through my studies and I believe it’s important for people to be aware of it and how to prevent its onset.
“Being a Community Champion will provide with some great experience in learning how best to communicate with people day in, day out, which I’ll be doing daily as a pharmacist.”
Natasha Ryan, a first year student in Accounting and Business Management, said: “I don’t have a lot of knowledge about diabetes but I have a few family members who have it so it’s important from a personal point of view to be able to raise awareness.
“I’ve also lived in Leicester since September and I thought it would be good to get a bit more involved in the local community.”
Posted on Wednesday 8th April 2015