Published on 22 January 2021

DRWF teamed up with Diabetes Professional Care to host our first virtual event.

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.

United Through Diabetes Poster

Healthcare professionals United at UTD

Maggie Meer, founder of DPC:

For a number of years I have been approached by other people with diabetes who recognise my passion for providing education and valuable information to people living with diabetes.

I am delighted to launch United Through Diabetes in partnership with DRWF and believe that our efforts will go a long way to ensuring that the lives of people living with diabetes will be enhanced through the education on offer and will enable them to better manage their conditions.


Professor Partha Kar, National Specialty Advisor for Diabetes with NHS England and Consultant in Diabetes and Endocrinology at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust:

I have participated in DRWF’s Diabetes Wellness Days in the past and they are excellent.

Shivani Misra, Consultant Physician in Diabetes at Imperial College London and DRWF Trustee:

It was a great privilege to be involved in the United Through Diabetes event. I was delighted to speak about research in diabetes and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity for interaction.

As both a diabetes consultant and researcher, I recognise the importance of people living with diabetes to have the opportunity to engage with researchers and other clinical leaders in the field.

I am especially proud, in my role as Trustee, that the DRWF co-organised such a ground-breaking event. It truly demonstrates DRWF’s appetite for innovation, pushing the (virtual) boundaries for people living with diabetes.

Dr Eleanor Kennedy, DRWF Research Manager:

The recent United Through Diabetes event was another great example of how audiences have had to adapt to the challenges that 2020 has put in the way of having face-to-face conferences and meetings.

All year, we have had to adopt new ways of meeting online. The event was well attended and there was lively discussion during all of the sessions including one I chaired with James Shaw, Shivani Misra and Kelly Carden on the ongoing debate about the hype versus the hope of diabetes research.

I’m not sure anything will ever beat the experience of a face-to-face meeting but, until such time that we can all meet safely in person again, this new way of life will continue to ensure that DRWF gets its important message about staying well until a cure is found out there to our membership and to wider online audiences too!

Support DRWF by making a donation here
Find out more about DRWF-funded research here
Find out more about DRWF fundraising here
For latest update follow DRWF on FacebookInstagram and Twitter
To receive the charity’s latest bulletins as they become available, please sign up here
Read DRWF diabetes information leaflets here
Join the Diabetes Wellness Network here

Recent News