As part of the Making Waves series, find out how Diabetes Scotland, Young Leaders Team has made an impact on self management in Scotland.
As winners of the 2018 Self Management Year of Young People Award, we want to share with you the learning from Diabetes Scotland, Young Leaders Team and how working together has enabled positive approaches to support self management. Linda McGlynn, Regional Engagement Manager tells us just about just some of the impact they have made.
Diabetes Scotland’s Young Leaders project is funded by Young Start at the Big Lottery Fund. The Young Leaders are a part of a project supporting young people aged 16 – 25 living with Type 1 diabetes to increase their confidence in self managing their condition whilst tackling issues important to them and the wider Type 1 diabetes community in Scotland.
The Young Leaders team are an inspiring, passionate and dedicated team of 14 young people who volunteer their time to develop and deliver innovative solutions to gaps in support, services and information. Developing new skills as change makers, the Young Leaders also increase their confidence in managing their own condition, whilst raising awareness of Type 1 diabetes, campaigning for change and providing peer support to other young people living with the condition in a variety of creative ways.
As they develop new skills as change makers, the team also provide each other with peer support at group meets, events and online. Through this peer support many in the team have grown in confidence in managing their own condition, feeling more confident and comfortable to talk to their diabetes team at clinic appointments about their needs, and ask the questions they hadn’t previously had confidence to ask.
The team work hard to raise awareness about Type 1 diabetes, to challenge the stigma, ensure more know about the condition and raise awareness about how to help someone who may be experiencing complications such as hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia (when blood glucose levels are too low or too high).
Peer support is a vital area that the team strongly believe is lacking for young people living with Type 1 diabetes in Scotland. As a result they have developed project plans to help fill this gap. They are in the process of setting up a peer support community groups in Ayrshire, and a buddy support group in a Glasgow diabetes clinic, offering 1:1 peer support for children and young people attending their appointments. They are dedicated to spreading the word about these groups and helping them to grow, so that they can support others to feel confident self managing their condition.
In June 2018 a Young Leader ran a full day conference for Young People living with Type 1 diabetes, an event that was months in the organising. With the support of the team the Young Leader successfully organised an exciting and insightful day that supported 30 young people, with their friends and family members joining them as plus ones to meet peers, share experiences and learn new information about managing their Type 1 diabetes. The day featured speakers and workshops on a range of topics including sport, diet, student life, employment, psychology, parenting, pregnancy, travel and fashion. The event was a huge success, with some attendees commenting that this was the first time since their diagnosis that they had met someone else living with Type 1 diabetes, and the first time that they hadn’t felt alone and felt like they belonged.
As a result of doing these activities through the project, the team have become more aware of how they manage their condition, the importance of managing it to the best of their ability and the importance of supporting others to find this awareness. Many have said that by being with other people living with Type 1 diabetes they have been able to develop the confidence manage their condition as best they can on the good days, and feel confident taking a break and asking for support on the hard days, with one Young Leader sharing that they feel confident injecting insulin in public for the first time.
The team have come together from all over Scotland to tackle issues important to them and the wider Type 1 community. In recognition of the impact they have had, the project has succeeded in securing a further year’s funding from the Scottish Government. This will support the team to grow the peer support networks they have begun to develop, supporting more young people living with Type 1 diabetes to develop confidence in managing their condition.
The Young Leaders work tirelessly to make change happen and to fill gaps in peer support so that they can provide opportunities for other young people living with Type 1 diabetes to feel better supported and connected with peers that understand. Their projects are ongoing, and they all remain dedicated to bridging gaps in peer support in Scotland. They are passionate about providing platforms and opportunities for young people living with Type 1 diabetes, with big plans for the year ahead, all the while continuing to balance their Young Leader role with work, education, and other commitments. Their passion, drive, integrity and kindness is truly inspiring.
To find out more about the Young Leaders Team, go to the Diabetes UK website (this link will take you away from our website).