Diabetes UK brought together healthcare professionals and leading figures from across Kirklees at an event to highlight the impact of their community champion programme.

The event which was held on 12 May at Dewsbury Town Hall celebrated the success of the one-year project, along with the work of the community champions in Kirklees.

Over 24,000 people are diagnosed with diabetes in North Kirklees and Greater Huddersfield. Diabetes UK, with the support of partners from Kirklees Council and NHS Greater Huddersfield and NHS North Kirklees CCGs has trained 39 community champions from all backgrounds to improve health outcomes for people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, who we know can be two to four times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. A fifth of Kirklees’ population is from BAME communities.

The community champions help people find out their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, recommend GP appointments where necessary, and raise awareness of the risk factors of the condition. They also support people who are already diagnosed with diabetes to better self-manage the condition.

Debi Johnson, 49, a community champion from Huddersfield said: “After finding out I was at risk of Type 2 diabetes and seeing the experiences of family members and people in my community who have diabetes, I realised how little people often know about the condition. I got involved with the programme as I am passionate about promoting health and wellbeing through lifestyle changes and informing people about their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Helping to raise awareness and offering support has opened up a lot of conversations about diabetes in my community, meaning more people are able to make informed decisions about their health and know where to access support. I hope to continue this work in our local community and for the programme to have a lasting impact for people with and at risk of Type 2 diabetes in Kirklees.”

Dr David Kelly, Chair, NHS North Kirklees CCG and local GP said: “Knowing the facts about diabetes is really important when it comes to managing the condition. There is so much information out there, but it is often difficult to know what is right and what is not. This is why the role of the community champions is so vital.”

Dr Steve Ollerton, Clinical Leader, NHS Greater Huddersfield CCG and local GP said: “The community champion programme provides a great opportunity to not only raise awareness of Type 2 diabetes and the steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing diabetes, but also provides support to people with diabetes.”

Jasmin Chowdhury, Diabetes UK Partnerships Delivery Manager said: “Type 2 diabetes is a serious health condition that, left undiagnosed or untreated, can lead to devastating health complications such as stroke, blindness and amputation. However, identified and managed well this doesn’t have to be the case. Community Champions have made a hugely positive difference in Kirklees, giving people across the area the best chance of living long, healthy lives by helping to raise awareness of diabetes and how people can reduce their risk of developing the condition. The programme has had a real impact and we hope the work of community champions will continue to improve the lives of people in Kirklees in the long-term.”

Find out more about Diabetes UK’s community champions project here.