Could you be a volunteer?

Are you one of those people who enthusiastically stick your hand up? Some people enjoy volunteering and thrive when they're being helpful. They enjoy supporting others, so it's a win/win situation.

Then there are less obvious ways we can be a volunteer, sometimes without even realising it; calling in to check on an elderly neighbour, visiting a young new mum or someone who's recently bereaved. What about giving blood or helping out at the school fair? It's all volunteering.

There are a few things to consider before you volunteer.

- Appreciate that once you start you may have to continue with that commitment indefinitely. So discuss any limitations or considerations before others start to depend on your involvement.

- Official ways to volunteer include charities, amateur groups and community initiatives which can provide training in new skills and maybe even a qualification.

Being a behind-the-scenes volunteer can be crucial to an organisation, with admin, fund-raising and training new recruits being the less glamorous roles that often struggle to be filled.

- Unofficial volunteering may include listening to someone in distress, helping them cope and move forward.

It may be tidying their home, helping with childcare or food preparation. A non-judgmental volunteer can help someone find their feet again.

- Set personal boundaries; are you available for phone calls anytime or do you need to be more specific.

Be wary of offering financial support and firm about being respected if you say 'no'.

- Remember, you're looking at things from your own perspective. Avoid over-investing in another person's decision-making. Far better is to listen whilst they find their own solutions, rather than be blamed if they follow your advice and are still unhappy.

- Volunteering to organise socials at work or amongst your friendship group can be fun, but also onerous at times.

You potentially improve your social life but collecting definite bookings, deposits and advance orders can be a thankless responsibility!

- Some places depend on volunteers to keep going.

Many charities, animal sanctuaries, food banks and shelters struggle over Christmas and holidays. But for those on their own volunteering at these times can offer great satisfaction and fulfilment.

Volunteering can help you make new friends and be a rewarding way to fill your time.

Susan Leigh, Altrincham Counsellor & Hypnotherapist

People don't have access to technology

Dear Editor,

We know that diabetes technology, like Flash glucose monitoring, continuous glucose monitoring and insulin pumps can greatly improve people’s health and quality of life. But too many people still don’t have access to the technology they need to best manage their condition.

Shockingly, in some areas of the UK, only 5 per cent of people with type one diabetes can access Flash, compared with more than 70 per cent in other areas.

What’s more, we’re seeing growing numbers of people with type two diabetes self-funding Flash because the technology isn’t available to them on the NHS.

People with and affected by diabetes have told us they want to see better access to diabetes technology.

And we agree.

But now we want to hear about your experiences.

So talk to us.

Our survey at - – is now live, and is open until 1 March.

Whether your experiences have been positive or negative, whether you want to talk about yourself, or about someone you care for, your views will help shape our work in this vital area.

With your help, we can ensure that everyone who could benefit from diabetes technology can access it.

Clare Howarth,

Head of the North of England at Diabetes UK

n Send your submissions for the Letters Page to or alternatively