DRWF partnered with the organisers of Diabetes Professional Care (DPC), the UK’s leading national diabetes annual event for healthcare professionals, to provide an innovative virtual conference.
The new first-of-its-kind event was entitled United Through Diabetes and held on World Diabetes Day – 14th November 2020.
DRWF Event Coordinator Lee Calladine on the challenges faced by the charity during the pandemic and how the event was organised:
“Like many charities, the arrival of Covid-19 early this year had a huge and unprecedented impact on DRWF.
It challenged us to completely rethink the way we work, interact with each other, and continue providing the vital diabetes education, information, and awareness people rely on us for.
We had to make some tough decisions to protect our own team, the healthcare professionals we work with and the people living with diabetes that we support.
One of those big decisions was cancelling our highly successful and award-winning programme of Diabetes Wellness Days, meaning this was the first time in the charity’s 23-year history that we wouldn’t be able to hold face-to-face events.
As a person living with type 1 diabetes, the pandemic has also bought its personal concerns and challenges. Self-isolation, social distancing, accessing vital services differently and working from home has continued to become the norm. This has been made easier by social media and technology like video calls.
Thankfully with the support of family and friends and a wonderful diabetes team at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth most of these challenges have been easy to deal with. Working as part of a remote but dedicated team at DRWF has also kept a daily routine and sense of normality in otherwise extraordinary circumstances.
My colleagues often repeat my current favourite quote ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ back at me, but this year that old saying has never been truer. Luckily, we live in a 21st century world where technology became the lifeline and conduit many of us needed to continue working and communicating.
The word virtual became a new norm for us and that’s why when the opportunity for DRWF to partner with the organisers from Diabetes Professional Care (DPC) presented itself, we excitedly embarked on a joint mission to create a fantastic online event for people living with diabetes, family members, care givers and diabetes healthcare professionals.
We decided to call this first-of-its-kind event United Through Diabetes because it brought together the entire diabetes community. It took place on World Diabetes Day – Saturday, 14th November, following on seamlessly from DPC’s three-day professional conference.
United Through Diabetes provided attendees with an interactive platform where they could set their own agenda for the day and take part in a variety of sessions designed to provide the latest diabetes information and guidance as well as holistic and wellbeing topics.
The programme was designed by people living with diabetes and featured an impressive line-up of diabetes experts from across the NHS and the diabetes world. Our mission for the event was to give people with diabetes the confidence, knowledge, and tools needed to take control of their health and personal diabetes journey.
This first outing of the event was a huge success. The programme featured 45 guest speakers over 27 different sessions.
In addition to the talks, attendees were also able download supporting information and link to online resources, visit the virtual exhibition stands, join discussions in the chat rooms and even buy DRWF Christmas cards and face masks.
We know that virtual events aren’t easy for everyone to take part in, but with circumstances out of our control it has become clear that virtual events will remain the best way forward for the near future or until it’s safe for face-to-face events to resume, especially for people with long-term and underlying health conditions like diabetes.
At DRWF we are already busy planning some exciting virtual events for 2021 to ensure we continue our best efforts to provide the ongoing educational support people living with diabetes need.
Almost like being there
Sarah Tutton, DRWF Chief Executive:
“Like many charities, having to cancel our support events due to Covid-19 left us very concerned that we would not be able to meet the needs of our supporters and beneficiaries, when they most needed us.
The opportunity to partner with Diabetes Professional Care and deliver United through Diabetes on World Diabetes Day helped us bridge that gap and engage online with the wider diabetes community; it was almost as good as being there in person! Such was the feedback, that we hope to repeat this event in 2021.”