Psychology student to lobby parliament for type 1 diabetes research funding

Final year pyschology student Elizabeth Sheils is going to Westminster to lobby parliament for more funds to find a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Elizabeth is a youth ambassador with the charity Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), which is running a campaign to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes and secure more investment into medical research.

As part of the campaign Elizabeth and 60 other adults and children with type 1 diabetes will go to the Houses of Parliament on 25 April to meet MPs.

Type 1 diabetes is a life-long condition caused by a problem with the immune system which means the body does not maintain a normal level of glucose in the blood.

People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin and manage a healthy lifestyle in order to keep their blood glucose levels within normal range.

Despite advances in treatment, the condition can have long term health consequences such as the risk of blindness and can shorten life expectancy by up to 15 years.

Elizabeth and other JDRF ambassadors outside the Houses of Parliament at last year's campaign

Elizabeth, who is from Gloucestershire, is being supported by Bath MP Don Foster who she will meet on the day followed by a question and answer session with a select committee in the afternoon.

Elizabeth explained why more investment is needed in finding a cure. She said: “Although £51 million was committed to fund research to tackle diabetes in 2009, only £6 million was applicable to type 1 diabetes. This amount is not adequate and the UK falls behind several other developed countries.

"Diabetes as a whole is currently the subject of much political attention, but the differences between type 1 and type 2 are rarely distinguished."

Elizabeth was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was just five-years old. She now manages the condition by wearing a pump that administers insulin into her body to stabilize her blood sugar levels and takes extra with every meal.

As well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Elizabeth also has to have annual checks on her blood, eyes and feet, as well as regular reviews of her diet. She has to carry medical equipment with her at all times.

She said: "I am able to live a full and normal life, eat what I like and go to the gym but I need to check my blood sugar levels about six times a day as I feel unwell when my sugar levels become too high or too low. I also have to be careful not to get too stressed and try not to pick up viruses as it can be challenging to manage my blood sugar levels when I am ill.

"I think it's important to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes among young people as there are a lot of misconceptions that it is caused by being overweight or eating too many sweets which is not the case."

Elizabeth spent the placement year of her degree at a diabetes centre working with a clinical psychologist, and has made the focus of her final year dissertation the psychology of diabetes.

Read Elizabeth’s blog here to find out more about living with type 1 diabetes.

If you like this article you might enjoy:

Bath graduate’s soup company to keep rugby fans fed on game day

Students bring Apprentice-inspired business to Bath

Bookmark with:

What is this?

We are one of the UK's leading universities with an international reputation for quality research and teaching. Our Mission is to deliver world class research and teaching, educating our graduates to become future leaders and innovators, and benefiting the wider population through our research, enterprise and influence. Our courses are innovative and interdisciplinary and we have an outstanding record of graduate employment.