AGM 2015: Secretary's Report

The past 12 months have seen a great achievement for people living with diabetes, in Basildon. That achievement? The official launch of a group that can offer support and guidance to people with diabetes, along with their family, loved ones, friends, even colleagues.

The Basildon Diabetes UK Group set out with three main aims:

·         Provide help and support to people affected by diabetes in Basildon

·         Raise awareness of diabetes, both types 1 and 2, and the seriousness of the condition

·         Raise funds to help improve the lives of people affected by diabetes in the local community and contribute to Diabetes UK

None of the above could have been possible without the help of a dedicated, motivated and thriving committee. I personally feel incredibly grateful to have worked with such a friendly, hardworking team of people. Each and every one of the committee members deserves acknowledgment. With the help of Mike as our Chair and Nicola as Vice-Chair, Lizzie as our Treasurer, and Lorraine and Karen, the Basildon group has gone from non-existent, to a group that meets every month, and attracts more people from month to month. As a group, we have really pulled together the community of people living with diabetes. Everyone has dedicated a huge amount of time to setting up the group and we are very proud of the results.

Over the past 12 months, we have all worked incredibly hard to push and promote the lifeblood of our group. Designing and distributing leaflets to local healthcare professionals, pharmacies, GP surgeries, even supeK'rmarkets and opticians.

The local diabetes care team at Craylands Clinic have been welcoming to the Basildon Group, keeping in stock the leaflets promoting our group. If we can build up stronger relationships with individuals at Craylands, we will hopefully see people being told about our group, when they attend their diabetes appointments, for example.

Unfortunately it seems we haven’t had quite the same response from the local GP surgeries. The However, if we continue to build upon our growing network, the local GP’s will hopefully see how useful a tool our group is.

Another way in which we have tried to attract new people to our group is through the structured education courses that are offered to people with Type 2 diabetes. Karen has attended 8 courses, introducing them to the Basildon group, tell them where and when we meet, why we meet, and making others feel welcome to attend the public meetings.  Karen will be attending another 10 courses between now and the end of the year, so we have high hopes for numbers attending the public meetings. We could perhaps look at introducing ourselves in the DAFNE course, which is aimed at people with Type 1 diabetes.

One thing we haven’t been able to fully commit to this year, is the fundraising aspect that Diabetes UK promotes as a nationwide charity. A number of changes however, mean that the Basildon group will be able to embrace the opportunity to fundraise for both the group’s funds and Diabetes UK research projects.

By electing a fundraising officer at this year’s AGM we envisage that there will be someone to always look for opportunities for our group to raise funds. Having a stall at local fairs and fun days will help our group to maintain a consistent presence in the local community, and hopefully reach people who would not ordinarily attend our group.

Earlier this year, Tesco renewed its partnership with Diabetes UK, alongside the British Heart Foundation. This is good news for us, as it essentially guarantees the Tesco Big Collection for the next three years. In addition to this, it might mean that we can arrange separate collections on a more local basis. Several Diabetes UK groups find this is their most beneficial and frequent form of fundraising.

This year we are taking part in the Tesco Big Collection, taking place 13-14 June. This will be a great opportunity to let people know that the Basildon Group exists, why it is important to have such a network and to ultimately attract more people to the group meetings. We had a lot of interest from people wanting to volunteer over the course of the weekend. Thus, this area is the only section in the Eastern region to have been oversubscribed with volunteers.

Something that the Basildon group has been successful with is the wealth of information that is readily available to those who want it. We have a large library of literature on hand at every meeting. If there is something specific you need information, we can almost certainly obtain the relevant information.

Likewise we have a good relationship with the local diabetes clinic, who are always more than happy to answer of troubleshoot questions from people with diabetes. This is something that members of the Basildon group needs to utilise more. The team at Craylands is there for US. No one should have to struggle with their diabetes, alone. The Basildon group could even in future act as a go between for you and the healthcare team. If you do have something you want to talk to a healthcare professional about, do feel free to drop a line to .

It is fair to say that we have on occasion struggled with dwindling numbers of people attending our group meetings. At every meeting, we do get at least one or two new faces.  We want people to come back to our meetings, more than once. Therefore, we are asking you to tell us what you want from this group. It is after all your group. If you tell us what you want, who you want as speakers, where you want to go, we can make it happen.

With our website being launched this year, we have been able to grow our online presence. Through Facebook and Twitter we have been able to engage a wider range of people. It has been the case over the years that the Diabetes UK support groups have consisted of a single generation. With the Basildon group, this is not the case and we are proud of this. He likes of Facebook and Twitter have helped us   to engage the younger community, who are also living m diabetes.

So what’s next for the Basildon group? The past year has been a challenge for us, in terms of establishing ourselves I the local community and ensuring we can provide the support that people living with diabetes want. In summary then, the last year has focused on attracting people to our group meetings. We have had some interesting and thought provoking speakers, with more lined up for the next 12 months.

And now? The Basildon group is ready to tread new ground. Having a greater integration in the local community as a whole, would help to ensure the longevity of the group. Throughout the course of the year, Basildon holds numerous fairs, roadshows, family fun days, that our group could have a part in. The Essex Country Show in September would be an ideal opportunity for us to let the local community know what the group endeavours to achieve.

The most powerful tool in attracting more members to the Basildon group is word of mouth. You are the most important advocates we have and we hope that you continue to support the Basildon group.

The final thought for this report is dedicated to each and every one who has allowed the Basildon group to thrive this past year. Huge thanks go to the committee members, who have organised the meetings, arranged a variety of speakers and built a network of people who regularly attend the group meetings. Thanks also go to those who have attended our meetings. Our group could not have grown without an audience. For the next 12 months, we will work to grow the group even more.