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New Tower Hamlets group set up by Diabetics UK to reduce loneliness and isolation during Covid

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 November 2020

Laura Dickens (left) and Lynda Stewart, both diagnosed with diabetes when they were four years old, now setting up Tower Hamlets support group. Picture: Diabetes UK

Laura Dickens (left) and Lynda Stewart, both diagnosed with diabetes when they were four years old, now setting up Tower Hamlets support group. Picture: Diabetes UK

Diabetes UK

A new group to connect people with diabetes is being launched online in the East End by two women who were each diagnosed when they were just four years old.

Diabetes campaign consultation held by Mary Hayes at Mile End Hospital in 2013. Picture:NHSDiabetes campaign consultation held by Mary Hayes at Mile End Hospital in 2013. Picture:NHS

Now Laura Dickens and Lynda Stewart have teamed up to form a Tower Hamlets group as part of the Diabetes UK voluntary network aimed at reducing one of the main causes of preventable sight loss and a major cause of amputation, kidney failure and stroke.

Their group kicks off on Monday, November 9, in a virtual Zoom meeting from 6 to 7pm.

Laura, a 30-year-old from Bromley-By-Bow diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a child, has had complications including two kidney transplants.

“I want to build a ‘diabetes community’ to reduce loneliness and isolation, particularly during Covid-19,” she said.

“I also want to create eye-care awareness, as someone who avoided eye-care visits for five years and developed background retinopathy.”

Laura, who is studying law at Birkbeck College, regularly runs and cycles and wants to help diabetics to get into sport and exercise.

Diabetes flash monitoring device being tested in 2018. Picture: Diabetes UKDiabetes flash monitoring device being tested in 2018. Picture: Diabetes UK

Her group co-founder, Lynda, a 42-year-old management consultant who also lives in Bow and also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the same age, is anxious to promote prevention awareness.

She said: “I’m keen to improve the experiences of diabetics as well as increase public awareness about preventing type 2 diabetes.”

They are joined at the online launch by members of Tower Hamlets Council’s public health team to discuss how to help those with type 1 and type 2 which they warn can lead to devastating complications.

Diabetes UK has long campaigned to reduce amputations by improving public awareness. Eight out of 10 could be prevented, it says.

Many people develop diabetes without knowing it, the charity found when it organised a Tower Hamlets health awareness roadshow in 2013 when 137 people had to be referred to their GP because of a “moderate to high” chance of getting Type 2, out of 233 people who were assessed.

The roadshow offered advice on lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet low in fat, salt and sugar and doing regular physical activity. Those with diabetes can have healthy lives if it is diagnosed early and if managed well.


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