Volunteering Vocation - My Pump Journey Continued

In last week's blog I mentioned about how going onto an insulin pump helped me discover what would soon become a great passion of mine... that passion became volunteering.

In the time that I had off from university and doing my degree, whilst swapping from insulin injections to a pump and becoming unwell I wanted something worthwhile to do with my time. I wasn't able to train very much, however in the February of 2009 I had just done the British Universities Championships- also know as BUCS. These games take place twice a year, both indoors and outdoors and invite any university athlete from institutions across the country to come together and compete on a UK scale. The competition is particularly hard because there are no age groups. Unlike other athletic competitions in British athletics, the age groups go up in small age increments from juniors Under 13, Under 15, Under 17 etc, until you reach the seniors after the age of 23. So without an age group it might mean your opponent is a former Olympian returned to do a masters degree, or a person that has never done athletics before.

In the previous 2 years that I had done the competition I had gained bronze medals, however this year was different. To my knowledge back then, I may not have been able to return to athletics after getting an insulin pump, as there was no one I knew who had come before me. Or who could tell me what to expect with regard to pumping and sport from a patients perspective. So this was my final race (or so I thought) and I felt like I had nothing to lose. So I ran for my life and got a silver medal in my event the 200m.

This was my last competition for some time, whilst I got my insulin pump. So with this experience I wrote to the charity I'd heard of who worked with people who had diabetes, supported them and campaigned for them in the hope of finding a cure- Diabetes UK. I remember feeling particularly mindful to the fact that I felt that I wanted to do my bit towards helping find a cure. I didn't want to sit around and wait for other people to fundraise and campaign on my behalf for a cure that I also needed.

Diabetes UK were wonderful, they emailed me straight back after my contacting them and telling them my story and that I wanted to start volunteering for them. The charity decided that the best role suited to me in terms of volunteering would be as a media ambassador. There are many other roles available, such as;

  • Campaigners
  • Community Champions
  • Diabetes Voices
  • Parent and child support groups
  • Media Ambassadors
  • Social Media Ambassadors
  • Fundraisers
and the list goes on and on, there really is a volunteering role to suit everybody.

The form my role took initially was talking to the press and media about diabetes- spreading awareness of the condition, promoting a positive message about what you can achieve in spite of having it and dispelling the myths so often associated with diabetes. It has been a really interesting role so far that also involved going to visit the Welsh Assembly (the Welsh Government) to speak to assembly members about improvements that can be made to diabetes care in Wales. It also involved working with healthcare professionals and giving them a real-life patient perspective on the care that they deliver.

Most recently the role has involved coming together with young people with diabetes and discussing the key issues facing people with the condition today across the UK, creating tools to help and finding ways to deliver these findings to the diabetes community. This weekend I was at the Young Persons Project (#YPP) training weekend in North Wales with Diabetes UK Cymru, to put a plan together with 11 other committed volunteers and 2 great leaders, in the hope of creating some fun activities for the forth coming Diabetes UK family weekends.

And these wonderful experiences, thanks to Diabetes UK- were what led to them nominating me to carry the Olympic Torch almost a year ago today! Look out for May 25th s blog to find out what it was like to represent my home city of Cardiff in front of over 20,000 people!


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Meet The Author

My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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