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28 June 2017

Movers & Shakers

Meet Joe Fraser, youth advocate spreading the work on diabetes education

We have talked to Joe Fraser, a youth advocate living with type 1 diabetes from the United Kingdom. Back in 2013, Joe took part in the IDF Europe Youth Leadership Camp.

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 13, Joe found it hard to come across the kind of information or education material about how to manage diabetes that would be tailor-made for him. Not having found it, he decided several years later to write his own guide, "Joe's Rough Guide to Diabetes".

JoeEver since I was diagnosed, having diabetes has been a learning process for me. At first it was simply a matter of learning to take control. I say “simply”, but it was far from it. There was only general guidance, and the literature to help was either too scientific and dry, or ‘dumbed-down’ and for ‘kids’.

That tough time inspired me, and once I learnt how to control my glucose I wrote “Joe’s Rough Guide to Diabetes”. It was the book I needed when I was diagnosed: it explains the ‘how’ of managing diabetes in a way that isn’t patronising but isn't overloaded with detail either. The first edition was published in 2006.

Having written the book I realised that having practical knowledge without having the tools to do something with it was not ideal! So I created the “Small-in-One” carry case: in the smallest space possible it takes all an insulin-dependent person with diabetes needs for twenty-four hours.

As ever though with diabetes, there’s always another thing to learn, and master! So recently I’ve started to try and address another issue of diabetes education: the relationship between healthcare professionals and patients. As part of a workshop, I now give talks to doctors, nurses, and dieticians to try and create a more ‘person-centred’ approach to treating long-term conditions.

What’s next? I have no idea! But that’s the exciting thing about diabetes, and life in general: once you start taking responsibility, engaging, learning, and creating there's no telling where the journey ends. I think the most useful thing I’ve learnt is that diabetes only holds you back if you let it; if you take control you can make it work for you.

For more information about Joe's guide, click here.