This weekend I attended a Diabetes UK family weekend in Darlington.
I hadn’t volunteered on a care event for many years, but I was recently chatting to a friend at the Tesco Big Collection, who has started volunteering this year, and decided to apply again. I was really pleased to be chosen for one this year.
We arrived at the beautiful hotel on Friday afternoon and met the other volunteers- who either had Type 1 or were a parent or sibling or were a HCP, such as a dietician or doctor.
Families arrived from 4pm, and we all met at a welcome meeting. All the volunteers stood in a horseshoe and explained who they were, their connection with diabetes and their role for the weekend.
I was to look after a little girl in the crèche, who’s older sister had diabetes, but in a last minute change of plan (flexibility is key 😁) I moved to the 9-11 year old group.
With me were three 9 year old girls, one of whom had Type 1 and was diagnosed 9 months ago. The groups were mixed girls and boys, Type 1’s and siblings and everyone was equal.
On Saturday, all the children, from ages 1-16, set off on coaches to Beamish museum. We had a fantastic day out- including tram rides, old shops and steam trains!
In and amongst our day, children and adult volunteers were testing their blood sugars, counting carbs, sampling victorian delights and injecting or bolusing on their pumps- and no one batted an eyelid!
I loved all the questions and learning that happened naturally throughout the day. Children with diabetes were asking each other about their meters, or finding out about different pumps. Two little girls asked me all about my pump handset and it’s Bluetooth whilst we were in the confectioners and I was bolusing for handmade cinder toffee, and siblings compared experiences chatting over their picnic lunch. But this was only part of the general chatter, which also included One Direction, favourite sports and X- factor!
The weekend was also a time for parents to meet adults with Type 1 and also other parents to share experiences and learn from and with each other (sorry parents- no trip for you)
As a Type 1 adult myself, I enjoyed sharing my experiences with the children and parents but also other Type 1 adults- you always learn something new or compare pumps (and enviously admire trialled Freestyle Libres 😉) when you get together!
Saturday culminated in a disco with party tea for the children and then a quieter staff meal (to recover!)
As we waved the families off on their way home on the Sunday, I hoped that they had enjoyed their weekend in a lovely hotel, but had also gained increased confidence, support and knowledge.
I personally had a great time and hope to volunteer on more soon- maybe even a holiday next summer!
If you’ve never attended a Diabetes UK care event, either as a family living with diabetes, or as an adult volunteer I would recommend you look into it and give it a go!