New diabetes champions are preparing to work in the city supporting people at risk of developing the condition.

Twenty people have been recruited as part of the Bradford Beating Diabetes campaign as BBD Champions.

The mix of volunteers, practice staff, health trainers and people who have worked as health champions before will be based in the Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area, which is spearheading the project.

They will work with people who have been identified as being at risk of developing diabetes and support them in making changes to their lifestyle.

The clinical chairman of Bradford City CCG, Dr Akram Khan, said: “The work the BBD Champions will be doing is both innovative and proactive in that they will be providing vital and positive support that can stop people from being ill. The message is all about lifestyle change and the difference that can make.

“The BBD Champions will be doing a great job helping people to understand the steps they can take to prevent or delay the development of diabetes.”

People at risk have been referred by their GP to the BBD champions who will be running Intensive Lifestyle Change Programme (ILCP) groups, recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

The informal groups, which will cater for ten to 15 people, will be held at GP practices and community venues throughout the city, and include key messages about lifestyle changes, including healthy eating and exercise, all of which will be aimed at delaying the onset of diabetes.

The BBD champions come from a range of backgrounds and speak several languages. Their training began in November, culminating with the presentation of the Understanding Health Improvement Award.

One of the champions is Lubna Khalid, who is at risk of developing diabetes because of medication she takes following a kidney transplant three years ago.

“The campaign has certainly made me more aware of the things I can do to improve my health,” said Lubna, who is 38 and works at the Women Zone women’s centre in Leeds Road.

“I have stopped taking sugar in my tea and now I eat a lot more fruit and vegetables, as well as trying to exercise more. As a diabetes champion I am really looking forward to helping others make improvements to their lifestyle. Making changes is always so much easier when you have the support of others.”

Bradford GP Dr Kulpana Patel has also been appointed.

She said: “Diabetes is a major problem and if we can work together to delay its onset in patients, then that has to be a good thing.

“Diabetes is also something very close to my heart, as my grandfather suffered from type two diabetes and sadly died, age 70 as a result of complications. My uncle also has type two diabetes and is on insulin.

“I think it’s vital that we raise awareness of diabetes and try to help as many people who are at risk.”