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  • Writer's pictureMichael McEntee

On Starting a Charity – Our First Tentative Steps

Updated: Mar 20, 2018

“Steps to your Healthy Future” – A charity to provide education and support for those with Type 2 Diabetes.

We come from varied backgrounds. From a diabetes nurse to marketing to economist to Sports Therapist. But the 5 trustees of our new charity have a common belief, that there are no pluses to having type 2 diabetes and sadly there is too little information for people about how to live your lives if you have it. Of course, the NHS is there and it is a truly unique organisation full of caring experts. But it is stretched and not everything can be a priority.

A few facts that made us stop and think

• 4.5 million people are living with diabetes in the UK

• Around 700 people a day are diagnosed with diabetes.

• There are 140 amputations a week from Diabetes

• Increased risk of erectile dysfunction - between 35% and 90% of those with diabetes experience greater problems

• Costs the NHS £10 billion a year of which £8 billion is avoidable

So, we decided to set up coffee mornings for those in the community who have it, but perhaps not huge wealth to pay for the right help. These were so successful that they are still going six years later. Why? Because they proved to be a place where like-minded people gathered. Where it was alright to talk about the problems, or whether the medication was right, or how isolating it can be, or keeping your weight under control or how erectile dysfunction is a real issue and more.

Kate, our chair also designed and set up a yearlong education programme. Privately sponsored so it was free to patients. Conducted in a GP surgery; the results were pleasing because it meant people changed their life style and continued the change.

Our conclusion? In August and based on Kates work we would set up a charity.

Two sides to the charity. Support those in community, reduce isolation, help people to come and work together to better live with diabetes, weight issues, loneliness, erectile dysfunction. How? By coffee sessions, one off talks and education programmes.

The other side - How do raise money to pay for them. We didn't and don’t want to be reliant on applying for grants, sustainability is important. No time here to explain what we are doing, so will cover next time.

Registering the charity with the charity commission coincided with their tightening of the rules and ensuring we were legit and fit for purpose. It meant lots of burning of midnight oil. But it made us question exactly how we would operate the two arms on a day to day basis.

Late November saw us celebrating our credentials as a registered charity. But then the ongoing question of how to market the charity. How to contact those in need of the services that we are here and how to encourage people to give us money?

As we had contacts with BVSC, contacting them for advice on the communications with potential customers was the obvious answer. The result, a meeting was organised this January where we explained our aims.

We were quietly blown away by the breadth and vision of their ideas and support.

“We can help with this and we can design that, we can send out emails to our client base, and have you thought about….”. Basically, making us think in practical terms what our next steps are, how to achieve them and how they could help in practical terms. A lesson for us was that we should use our own expertise where we can, but not to be afraid to ask for help or use expertise where offered or available.

So here we are in January, Charity Commission number sorted, customer focus agreed, marketing strategy and what we are going to deliver in hand, our roles - not mentioned before but clarity of which Trustee doing what, getting there.

So now it is suddenly beginning to feel real, achievable and part exciting part scary.

Next time, on getting ready for the first event and the media and getting people to attend and the small and seemingly endless saga of having to deal with our banking system and how we are actively seeking money to fund it.

Till the next time

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