In 2014, Diabetes UK launched Type 2 Together in North East Essex, a project which gave people an opportunity to learn more about living with diabetes through peer-to-peer support groups.
Although the project came to an end in May 2016, many of these groups still remain across Colchester and Tendring and continue to provide support to those living with Type 2 diabetes.
In our latest blog, Michael Loveridge, who has spent the past three years running the Harwich and Dovercourt and Walton support groups and last year was recognised for his volunteer work with Diabetes UK at the East of England Inspire Awards, explains how they can be a source of great comfort for patients.
What suppport was available to you when you was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes?
I was first diagnosed with diabetes 16 years ago and at the time I felt fine but for persistent pins and needles in my toes. The diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes shocked me but I was not surprised as my brother and parents all had diabetes.
At the time, there was little support for diabetes and the only available information was contradictory.
Why did you get involved with running the groups?
I wanted to get involved because I had just returned from four years in Central America where more than 55% of the population has diabetes.
Following a severe accident and two failed operations and two snake bites, I came home to the UK where I was slowly mended by the NHS.
Joining Diabetes UK I trained as a Peer Support Facilitator which was my way of paying back for the treatment. I have learnt so much in the past four years, becoming a chairman of my local 18,000 PPG, joining a Health Forum Committee and re recently become a Governor of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust.
The last 16 years have provided a huge step forward towards improved care and control of diabetes and I am proud to be a part of this.
The information now is light years ahead and there are many online and NHS run courses that are free.
What are the Type 2 Together support groups about?
The friendly, informal groups are run by patients, for patients – and allow people living with Type 2 diabetes to share experiences, challenges and practical advice about managing their diabetes.
I’ve learnt that people living with diabetes really benefit from talking to others about their condition – particularly those who share the same challenges.
But the groups are more than just an opportunity to learn about diabetes. They’re a chance to make new friends – which is important as not everybody has a wide network of friends and family that can support them with making lifestyle changes and managing their diabetes.
What types of tips are shared through the Type 2 together support groups?
Everyone with Diabetes has a different experience and by discussing this together we learn ahead of any complications what is to come next. Differing exercise and dietary plans is a constant topic for conversation.
Everyone attending group meetings has commented on how helpful it is and how much it has benefited the control of diabetes. There are continual discussions on the last health reviews and HbA1c levels achieved.
I’d encourage anyone who might be interested in finding out more to get in touch. Members of the NEEDS team often attend the Type 2 Together groups to update patients about their local diabetes service and provide information about local structured education courses. It’s incredibly useful.
Type 2 Together groups in North East Essex include:
|North Colchester||Mill Road Surgery||Last Thursday of the month||2:30pm|
|South Colchester||Cherry Tree Public House||Last Friday of the month||10:00am|
|Walton||Walton Community Project, High Street||Last Tuesday of the month||2:00pm|
|Brightlingsea||Parish Council Offices||Third Tuesday of the month||2:00pm|
|Clacton||Tesco, Brook Retail Park||Third Thursday of the month||2:00pm|
|Wivenhoe||The Flag Public House||First Tuesday of the month||10:00am|
|Dovercourt and Harwich||Dovercourt Central Methodist Church||First Wednesday of the month||10:00am|