Community champions are trained and ready to help people with diabetes in Wandsworth
Thirteen people have been named as "Community Champions" in Wandsworth after successfully completing a training course with Diabetes UK in collaboration Wandsworth CCG and Wandsworth Borough Council.
The Champions will be a big asset to people in Wandsworth through engagement projects and work to help reduce the impact of diabetes and encourage healthier living.
The diabetes Community Champions will work across the borough to raise awareness of the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes and offer sources of information to help those who have been diagnosed to stay healthy.
One of the Champions, Anil Bhatt, who is an active member of the Hindu Society based at Garratt Lane, Earlsfield, said: "I signed up to become a Wandsworth Community Champion because I wanted to increase my awareness of diabetes and help other people understand more about the condition.
"On the training programme I met people from all across the borough, from all races and religions and all different age groups. I think this will be one of the strengths of the Community Champion programme - between us we will be able to connect with all the different communities in Wandsworth."
In Wandsworth, more than 12,000 people have diabetes. Although some risk factors for Type 2 diabetes such as age, family history and ethnic origin, can't be changed, other risk factors involving diet, exercise and lifestyle can be altered to prevent or delay the condition.
Wandsworth's Community Champions have learnt all about the signs, symptoms and risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. They will attend local events where they will be able to pass on their knowledge and point Wandsworth residents in the direction of services which can help them.
Matthew Mehra, Engaging Communities Officer at Diabetes UK, said: "We wanted people who care about good health and are well-connected in their local community. The training course has given the Champions the confidence and skills needed to take the healthy living message to people across Wandsworth. Community Champions in other areas tell us that they really enjoy their role and get a sense of achievement out of helping others."
Jane French, Commissioning Manager at Wandsworth CCG, said: "Diabetes is a serious medical condition affecting the lives of individuals and their families. You can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by ensuring you eat healthily and participate in regular activity.
Houda Al-Sharifi, Director of Public Health said: " Diabetes is a major public health issue for Wandsworth with over 12,000 people in the Borough with the disease and more thought to be undiagnosed. People can lower their risk by eating healthily (such as lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and drinking less alcohol), taking regular exercise and not smoking. Getting diabetes diagnosed early is also important- symptoms may include passing urine often or frequently feeling thirsty. If concerned, people can go to their GP, local pharmacy or take up their offer of an NHS Health Check.. The Diabetes Community Champions will perform a very important role in trying to prevent diabetes or having it diagnosed early by working with our most at risk communities in Wandsworth."
Early diagnosis can help to reduce the risk of diabetes related complications. These are the important health messages that our Community Champions will be spreading to residents across Wandsworth. The Champions will also direct people to the many services commissioned by Wandsworth Borough Council that are designed to support people to live a healthy life."