Diabetes Befriending

The Diabetes Befriending project has been completed and is now closed. This page is for information only.

WHFS (Women's Health & Family Services) established a support network for diabetes service users, carers and relatives in Tower Hamlets in 2008, which ran until March 2016, funded by the NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commission Group (THCCG).

The WHFS Long-Term Conditions Manager, in partnership with specialist health practitioners, devised a programme of training for Befriending Volunteers which focused on improving understanding of diabetes and how patients can make positive lifestyle changes to control the impact of their diabetes.

The Diabetes Befriending project was delivered by volunteers (under the guidance of WHFS staff), who provided practical and moral support to people with Type 2 diabetes, enabling and empowering them to manage their condition more confidently and effectively.

WHFS trained a team of volunteers ("Befrienders") with experience of diabetes who were recruited to support people who were not controlling their Type 2 diabetes adequately, in particular, the elderly or people who did not speak English as a first language. The volunteers were mainly local Bengali and Somali people.

The Diabetes Befrienders provided informal advice on healthy eating choices and exercise, and introduced diabetic patients to healthy living activities within Tower Hamlets (such as the gym, gardening groups, walking, swimming and cookery classes).

They also provided information on diabetes services, accompanied people to healthcare appointments and provided moral support to people undergoing insulin initiation. WHFS also ran weekly keep fit classes at the Brady Centre for Bengali men and women with a qualified trainer. These activities were designed to empower those with diabetes to manage their condition themselves and improve their quality of life.


Our staff and volunteers work extremely hard to ensure the success of each project, and the feedback we have received reflects this.

The diabetes patients' experiences of the WHFS Diabetes Projects

“In every session I participated in I have learnt more techniques to manage my diabetes. Today’s session is a significant one for me as it has answered all my needed questions in regards to food in a very simple and easy to understand way. I am now confident to eat the type of food which would help my blood sugar to stay normal.” (Diabetes Education project user)

We go to the gym and swimming once a week which I haven’t done before. We also meet in the local mosque to have a chat or to pray and then have tea in a local cafe. My befriender is a very kind and understanding person. We get on very well and my befriender kept me mentally alive.” (Diabetes Befriending project user)

The Practice Nurse's experience of the WHFS Diabetes Projects

"I think the project is absolutely invaluable because communication would be impossible without you...it's hard for me to get the patient to understand the importance of managing diabetes...I refer to [WHFS staff] for education or further advice in order to save time during appointments." (Interview with Practice Nurse at GP surgery)

Further information

Please click here for information on our current projects.