Health and wellbeing

Funding level: Up to £1,000


The West Lothian Diabetes Scotland Group is run under the auspices of Diabetes UK but is entirely self-financing and run by volunteers. The group is recognised as one of the most pro-active and innovative support groups within Diabetes UK and has received numerous awards for its work. The main purpose of our group is to provide support and information for people living in West Lothian with diabetes, their family, friends and carers. The project for which we are requesting funding is unique to the West Lothian Group but serves as a good example for other groups throughout the UK.

Diabetes is increasing rapidly and one in twenty people in Scotland are now diagnosed with diabetes with a new diagnosis every thirty minutes. There are more than 9000 people with diabetes in West Lothian. Self-management is critical to avoid serious complications such as blindness, amputations, kidney failure and a greatly increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Depression is also twice as high in people with diabetes compared to the general public.

Exercise is key in the self-management of diabetes as it improves insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular health, circulation and energy levels. It also reduces body fat and stress and promotes a feeling of wellbeing, combating depression and anxiety.

However regular exercise is one of the most difficult challenges for people with diabetes with the main barriers being lack of self-confidence, understanding what is required and how to do it, potential embarrassment ,concern over the impact on diabetes control and motivation.

To encourage people with diabetes to exercise and to support them in maintaining it we run weekly exercise sessions delivered by Personal Best personal trainers. Sessions are exclusively for people with diabetes and are delivered in a private, safe and welcoming environment to encourage participation by people who would otherwise not have the confidence to undertake exercise. Each session is restricted to 8-10 people as this allows the trainer to tailor the programme more closely to individual needs. There is a mandatory individual screening procedure and fitness assessment to ensure eligibility for the program. This also enables the programme to be tailored to the needs and capabilities of the participants.

Over 60 people with diabetes have already participated and all those involved, some of whom have never before taken formal exercise, report a general improvement in fitness, overall health and well-being with a positive impact on their weight and blood glucose levels. Several members have been able to reduce or entirely dispense with diabetes medication because of the improvements brought about by the sessions. Most have also increased their levels of exercise outside the sessions and the education incorporated in the sessions on both fitness and nutrition will enable them to make the most of activities in future years. The sessions are stretching but also good fun and one of the most important benefits has been the forming of friendships and a feeling of involvement which has spilled over into other group activities. Many members have commented on how the sessions have helped with depression and anxiety.

The project has been praised by local healthcare professionals who are happy to refer their patients to the Group for support, information and encouragement.

A £1000 award from AVIVA would fund a personal trainer for weekly sessions for six months and enable us to continue and develop this successful and innovative project.

West Lothian Diabetes Scotland Group

Moment of Pride

I am very proud of the Group for taking a pro-active and practical approach to supporting the self-management of people with diabetes. Regular evaluations show that the group has been life-changing for many members both in terms of physical health and just as importantly mental well-being.

Location: West Lothian, United Kingdom