NHS charity seeks sponsorship to expand boxing sessions for children with diabetes

Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity is seeking a sponsor to support confidence and mental health boosting boxing sessions for youngsters with diabetes.

Six children and an adult pose with boxing bags

Recognising the profound impact of physical activity on the health and resilience of children managing diabetes, the charity has partnered with Unity Boxing Centre to offer sessions for youngsters cared for by the Children and Young People's Diabetes Team at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust. 

The tailored sessions are designed to instil confidence, enhance mental health, resilience and to offer a safe space for participants to connect with other youngsters also dealing with diabetes.

The idea was spearheaded by Rebecca Davis, a Paediatric Diabetes Family Support Worker, at the Trust. She said: “We know from working with hundreds of youngsters every year that their physical and mental health is directly linked to how well they cope with diabetes. A diabetes diagnosis is life changing and can be incredibly difficult to accept and adapt to. 

“We talk to lots of parents and teachers, who tell us that activity sessions are really useful to help boost the confidence and mental health of children with diabetes, especially if it’s a new diagnosis. That’s what inspired me to seek charity funding and to set up boxing sessions at Unity.

“The feedback from the first sessions has been so enthusiastic. The children are enjoying it and we can see them come out of their shell. Some of the youngsters won’t have met another child with diabetes before so it’s a great opportunity to meet their peers who also know what they’re going through. But at these sessions, their diabetes doesn’t matter – it’s about having fun and showing that diabetes doesn’t need to hold you back.

“The team at Unity Boxing are so community orientated – it’s the perfect partnership and we’d love to have a sponsor so we can continue the sessions in future.”

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood glucose, or sugar, level to become too high.

The hormone insulin – produced by the pancreas – is responsible for controlling the amount of glucose in the blood. Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, but usually appears before the age of 40 and particularly in childhood. 

If the amount of glucose in the blood is too high, it can seriously damage the body’s organs. Typical symptoms include feeling thirsty and tired, passing urine more often, weight and muscle loss and persistent infections. 

Daisy Riley, 12, of Greasborough, has been attending the sessions. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes aged nine. 

Mum Kelly Fox said: “Daisy has always wanted to try boxing, so when we received a letter from the Children’s Diabetes Service offering her the opportunity, it felt like fate. It’s a great experience for her because she can see how exercise impacts her levels and how to deal with that. Parents like me are close by but she has a sense of independence and it makes her happy. She’s the only girl in the group, but she doesn’t let that hold her back.”

Rachel Hunt’s son Cooper, age seven, from Whiston, has been cared for by the Children and Young People's Diabetes Team since he was three.

She said: “It was important for his dad and myself to come as although he is confident talking about his diabetes and equipment, we didn’t know any other kids with the condition. I hope that because he can see others wearing their Type 1 medical devices that it normalises the condition even more for him. It’s also nice for us to speak to other parents about their experiences too – it benefits all three of us. We’ve loved it!”

Vanessa Foster attended the sessions with son Freddie, age 12. She said: “Starting secondary school and dealing with diabetes is hard and I saw that Freddie’s confidence and mood was low. I wanted him to do something athletic that gets him away from his computer and his reaction to being offered the classes, was an enthusiastic ‘yes!’

“The sessions are encouraging him to be confident, to manage his diabetes independently, particularly during exercise. In PE class at school he has to check his levels before, during and after class and it makes him self-conscious. Here he can just be himself. He still gets cross sometimes about his diabetes but the sessions are helping his mental health and shows him how to manage his frustrations in the right way.”

  • There are currently around 400,000 people living with type 1 diabetes in the UK and approximately 29,000 of them are children. 
  • Approximately 16 children and young people newly diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes each year in Rotherham. 
  • The Children and Young People's Diabetes Team is currently caring for 126 children aged 0-19 years old, 118 of which have Type 1 diabetes.
  • The Trust also cares for a small number of children diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and rarer types of the condition. 

A programme of six 45-minute sessions at Unity Boxing Centre, run by director and coach Abdul Majid, costs just £660 for up to 10 children.

Rachael Dawes, Head of Fundraising, said: “We fund some incredible things at the charity and this is a great example of how the money you donate can have a powerful impact on the young patients we care for. 

“We’d love to continue to fund the boxing sessions for other youngsters to benefit from again in future. We can’t do that without your generosity and hope that a local business or community group will help sponsor them. It would be a great way to support children with diabetes from Rotherham and beyond at such a crucial time in their lives.”