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Diabetes pilot champions good health in Walsall

  • 18th July 2022

  • Customer news Stronger Communities

A group of local residents are leading the fight against diabetes, thanks to a new pilot set up in Walsall.

The four-strong team, who all have lived experience of diabetes, have been recruited  as community health champions. They will be working in Caldmore, Pleck, Palfrey and St Matthews, where levels of diabetes are high and general health and wellbeing is poor.

The champions will use their life experience of living with, or caring for someone with diabetes, to connect with people in the local area, encourage access to support services, including diabetes education sessions and support people to positively manage their condition.

As residents who live in the areas where whg will be delivering the service, they will use their day to day connections to identify and engage people who are not currently taking up support services and as a result are struggling  to manage diabetes.

The project, which has been funded by NHS Black Country ICB and delivered in partnership with the NHS community diabetes service, aims to support  400 people over the next two years.

whg’s Director of Stronger Communities  Connie Jennings said: “The numbers of people who will be diagnosed with diabetes is increasing, with people living in deprived communities  2.5 times more likely to have diabetes at any age.

“Deprivation is strongly linked to a higher level of diabetes with people in poorer communities less able to eat well, take time for physical activity or deal with stress.  Once they are diagnosed, people who have less resources are much more likely to develop complications from their condition.

“As a place-based community housing association we are closely connected to the communities we serve. This ensures we can more easily identify and reach people other services may struggle to access. Our ability to get beyond the front door provides us with a greater opportunity to talk to people about a range of things that matter to them – including their health and wellbeing.

“This preventative approach will not only improve a person’s health it will also ease the strain on health and social care by reducing the need for acute services further down the line.”

The NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB) Director of Transformation and Partnership Taps Mtemachani said: “We are delighted to see new local health champions appointed to what will be an invaluable service for our communities.

“Having strong community connections is so important to deliver health improvement and we particularly recognise the challenges we have with diabetes and the lack of culturally accessible support and treatment in some of our communities. These community health champions have lived experience and will use this, along with their neighbourhood connections, to link people into advice, support and local healthcare services.”

Donna Chaloner, Lead for Community Diabetes services for Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “The team are really excited that they have the opportunity to work in partnership with whg on the Diabetes Community Health Champions Programme. There are an increasing number of people in Walsall either developing diabetes or already living with diabetes and it’s really important they know what services are available to them.   This programme will undoubtably help to signpost residents who may otherwise have difficulty accessing healthcare to a full range of support available in Walsall.”

The four champions will be out and about within the local area, holding activities and sessions which will be fun as well as informative and will focus upon encouraging and supporting people at risk of or currently living with diabetes to become healthy, hopeful about their future and happy in their day to day life.

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