There should be little doubt that living with diabetes can sometimes be difficult to the point of making you feel overwhelmed.
Having a good support network is key to helping you manage the times where you feel like you're not sure where to turn or what to do for the best. Many of us are fortunate enough to have a group of close friends or a supportive family to help us when we need it; to listen to our problems and offer a sympathetic ear.
Some people are a little less fortunate or may even feel worried or embarrassed about revealing a particular problem or concern to someone they have a close relationship with. In these cases, Peer Support can be an effective tool for people with diabetes.
Peer Support is an incredibly valuable service that's run on a purely volunteer basis aimed at providing anyone affected by diabetes, whether it's you with the condition or you're a parent or carer for someone with diabetes. All volunteers go through training provided by Diabetes UK to ensure they're able to listen to whatever you have to say and provided support, advice or guidance wherever possible. Anyone can get in contact via phone or e-mail and you can read more about it on the Peer Support page
Recently I've become involved, along with another volunteer Louise, in a new strand of localised Peer Support that is being piloted by Diabetes UK. The overall aim is to be able to offer the same Peer Support service described above, but also offer informal support in a more social environment on a group or face to face basis within our own local areas.
Louise and I are offering Peer Support through a number of different mediums (Twitter, Facebook, and via a shared blog) as well as looking to utilise the Diabetes UK forums if at all possible. That support will be open to anyone who feels like they need to get something off their chest, just needs someone to listen or simply needs pointing in the right direction for some support or advice.
On a local level, we're hoping we can promote the service by getting local doctors and healthcare professionals on board and by asking our diabetes specialist teams to make sure everyone in hospital clinics knows what we have to offer. As interest hopefully grows, we'll be looking to arrange informal meetings for people to get to know each other.
Our new Peer Support work hasn't been going very long but it's starting to gather momentum and the more we can spread the word, the more we'll be able to help people affected by diabetes with anything they might need.
Louise and I aren't experts with years of medical training, but we do have a wealth of experience in living with diabetes and know that sometimes, having someone who's able to listen will do you the world of good.
If you want to find out more about what we're hoping to achieve, please visit our Peer Support Blog which also details how to get in touch with us by e-mail.
You can also connect with us in the following ways:
Andy (Sheffield area)
Louise (South East)
If you've got something that's been troubling you then please consider using Peer Support as a means of unburdening yourself. We use the hashtag #talktosomeone on Twitter so if you need help, support or advice then do Talk To Someone.
Important: All Peer Support volunteers have been through training and checks to ensure you're always discussing any issues in a safe environment. Your details will be kept confidential at all times.