A little while ago I was interviewed for an article on the Guardian website about whether or not universities are doing enough to support students with long-term illnesses. Of course every university is different and each will have it's own provisions in place, or so we hope. Nevertheless the general consensus revealed that students living with autism, epilepsy, mental health disorders, diabetes etc. don't always have access to the help and resources they need to be happy and successful whilst studying.
When I started uni in September of last year I attended freshers fairs expecting to come across a Diabetic Students Society of some sort, but no such luck. Yes, Disability Services and Disability Counselling are all well and good and definitely are needed, but what if I don't want to be counselled? What if I just want to speak to people in a similar position to me, people with diabetes? It's for this reason that I was excited and intrigued when I was contacted about an online support network for diabetic students.
Vicki Gibbs and Lizzie Holt are second year university students who had been disappointed with the lack of support offered to them and others with diabetes. Both girls felt they had benefited immensely from being able to interact and identify with one another on the Diabetes Support Forum (UK), and felt there should be a place where diabetic students could do the same. So, in true DOC style, they made it happen!
Student Diabetics UK (SDUK) or 'Rant Room' is a Facebook group where students can talk about, laugh about, share concerns about and unite through diabetes. From managing diabetes and drinking alcohol, to dealing with diabetes and exam stress, to concerns about bg levels, to where we keep our diabetes supplies - you name it, SDUK discuss it! It's not even 2 months old, but the support group is growing as quickly and successfully as the friendships that are being made within it.
Not only is it helping me to focus on managing my diabetes as a student, but I'm learning new things all the time and I'm meeting some truly amazing people along the way. I think it would be fair to say that we'll be seeing great things from SDUK in the future. So if you're a college/sixth form/university student, check it out! Trust me, you'll love it as much as I do.