Diabetes UK Cymru has launched a program in Carmarthenshire to support the need to support people with diabetes whose isolation has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the success of a Diabetes UK Befriending Circle established two years ago, a similar program is currently being tried out in Wales, where a third of the population lives in rural areas – some of which lack public transport and digital connectivity.
Carmarthenshire has been identified as a priority area for piloting the program as over 61% of the population is classified as rural.
There is also a larger population, over 65 years of age, compared to the national average. However, volunteers can apply from anywhere in Wales and provide support by phone or email to people with diabetes in that area.
Dai Williams, National Director of Diabetes UK Cymru, said: “Befriending is the right approach as it is easier for people to listen by phone or email than it is to access support in person.
“Travel times between locations in Carmarthen can be long and difficult for some.
“With added concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever to ensure that vulnerable people stay safe at home, but also receive support to reduce the risk of them feeling isolated and alone.
“This service will benefit both the friend and the referral by reducing the risk of isolation.”
The Befriending Circle is led by the Diabetes UK Cymru volunteer team and is expected to recruit and train between five and ten friends by the end of 2021.
Lucy Snell, Diabetes UK Cymru Volunteer Development Officer for Wales said: “We hope to be up and running by late spring raising awareness of the work of our Carmarthenshire charity by providing long-term emotional support to people with diabetes and their carers in a way we couldn’t before. “
The introduction of Friendship Service will be able to have a friendly conversation with someone who knows what it is like to live with diabetes and alert users to local services and support.
More than 209,015 people in Wales are now living with diabetes.
This is 8% of the population aged 17 and over – the highest prevalence in the UK.
Around 25,000 people are registered with diabetes across the Hywel Dda University Health Board region.
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