Fariya wins award for helping raise awareness of diabetes

Fariya Ahmed had not even started her studies at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) when she signed up as a student volunteer. Her dedication and commitment to helping people has been recognized after she was named the best volunteer in her faculty at DMU Square Mile Awards night.

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DMU Square Mile is the university’s award-winning community outreach programme, which shares the skills of staff and students to serve the public good and help make a difference to others’ lives. Medical Science student Fariya found out about the work of Square Mile when she met the team during Freshers’ Week. It was the project to help people with Type 2 Diabetes that interested her most.

She said: “I never expected to see my name with the finalists, let alone win! I have worked really hard on the project and it’s something which I feel very strongly about.

“Diabetes is a huge problem for so many people because of our diets and lifestyle, and we wanted to get the message out there. I became a team leader and set up awareness events in venues that had never done them before, like Sikh temples and libraries.”

Thanks to the work of Fariya and her team, hundreds of people have been assessed for their chance of developing the condition. She was presented with the award for Health and Life Sciences Volunteer of the Year by Diabetes UK Engaging Communities manager, Krishna Sarda.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin and their blood sugar is too high. People who smoke, have poor diets, are overweight and do not exercise are at more risk of developing the condition.

Students are trained by charity Diabetes UK to use online diagnostics to assess a person’s likelihood of developing the condition. The efforts of DMU students has seen hundreds of people referred to their GP for further tests. Leicester has one of the highest incidence rates of diabetes in the country.

“Fariya is a true dedicated volunteer to not only raising awareness about Type 2 diabetes, but also risk assessing hundreds of community members across Leicester to identify their chances of developing it,” said Josh Hargreaves, who was compere at the awards night in Leicester’s New Walk Museum.

Other finalists were Robert Smith, who volunteers at Warning Zone helping young adults understand risk and personal responsibility; Nicola Mullis who volunteers through DMU’s C Word project to help people living with cancer and Debrah Chingwenga for her enthusiasm and energy for each project she is involved in.