Annual Report - 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021

The past year has been a difficult one for New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses.  That has been equally true for charity organisations, and Diabetes Wellington is no exception.  The challenges brought by the Covid pandemic have created much more demand for funding than funds available which has resulted in a significantly increased workload for our funding team.  The Committee acknowledges the excellent work of Jonathan Bhana-Thomson and Lauren Fildes in producing high-quality funding applications that, collectively, have resulted in a pleasing financial result that will be presented later. 

Of course, the pandemic didn’t only affect us financially.  The first month of the 2020-21 financial year was spent under level 4 conditions and the stock from the shop was moved to Peggy and Jonathan’s home so that online orders could continue to be fulfilled.  I’m reliably informed that contactless delivery to the courier was achieved by dropping parcels from a window!  Despite the difficulties associated with operating at times under higher Covid alert levels, our staff and volunteers have endeavoured to continue to provide the support services we are known for.  The Committee thanks Peggy and her team for keeping things ticking over in trying times.

The vision for the Society is that Diabetes Wellington be recognised as the premier provider of non-medical support services to people with Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes in the Wellington region.

We report the following outcomes under a number of the strategic plan objectives (and those objectives remain unchanged):

  1. Provide quality information and services

Our quarterly printed newsletter Diabetes News is prepared and distributed by the Society and is the main means of communication to all our members, with a circulation of over six hundred copies.  Each edition comprises a range of information useful for assisting in self-management of diabetes, keeping members up to date with new developments in diagnosis and treatment, and providing news about recent and upcoming local activities. This year the newsletter has been financially supported by One Foundation Trust and Lottery COVID-19 Community Wellbeing Fund, with mailing costs contributed to by the T G McCarthy Trust.

Where we have email addresses for members we have continued to provide monthly updates and this has proven to be a great way of keeping our members up to date with Society news and activities.

The Facebook page is another way in which the Society connects with its members, particularly useful for alerting people to upcoming events.

Our website (diabeteswellington.org.nz) has a number of features including a shop, an online membership form, information on the services provided by the Society, and links to our fundraising activities. The online shop is a great way for our members and others with diabetes to access diabetes products at a reasonable cost.


  1. Represent members’ interests within Wellington and the health sector

The Field Officer provides non-medical support services to individuals with diabetes as well as their families. In addition, she makes presentations to groups and individuals on diabetes and services that we provide, and provides connections to other support and medical services in our region. The Field Officer service in 2020/21 was financially supported by COGS grants, Lottery Grants, the Diabetes Wellington Charitable Trust and the Caremongering Gift Fund.

We have carried out several Education initiatives over the year:

  • Zoom webinar with Dr Richard Stubbs;
  • Zoom webinar with diabetes nurse practitioner Lindsay McTavish;
  • a footcare session held in Upper Hutt (funded by Upper Hutt Council);
  • presentations to businesses and other groups; and
  • a Zoom webinar on how to manage stress.

The Information Centre is open between 10 am and 4 pm weekdays at Level 1, Anvil House, Wakefield St, for support and information.  The centre also has a wide range of diabetes-related products for sale.  Funding for lease of the Centre was supported by the Lion Foundation, Wellington City Council – Betty Campbell Accommodation Assistance Grant and the MSD Community Resilience Fund.  The T G Macarthy Trust assisted with the Centre’s telecommunications costs.

Supermarket tours, with expert advice from a nutritionist, are popular with members.  However, Covid-19 impacted this activity in 2020/21, with only one event able to be organised (in Wainuiomata).  The tour is aimed at improving understanding of the labels on food products, most particularly the nutritional information relevant to those with diabetes.

  1. Represent members’ interests within Wellington and the health sector

The Field Officer has continued to stay in close contact with the DHB diabetes nurses throughout the year, ensuring that visitors to the Information Centre receive the correct information on available services.

Diabetes Wellington endeavoured to ensure members’ needs were supported during COVID-19. Actions were put into place at the end of the prior year and continued in the 2020/21 year:

  • a COVID-19 Plan was created setting out the impact and response at each stage of lockdown;
  • working from home arrangements were implemented for Levels 2 – 4;
  • the Information Centre was reopened at Level 1; and
  • MSD provided support in a number of ways, including:
  • the Wage Subsidy scheme;
  • funding for the use of Zoom; and
  • funding to provide free freight for on-line purchases from the shop.

In addition the landlord of Anvil House provided a rent reduction during Levels 3 and 4 which we acknowledge with gratitude.

We made a decision to communicate more with our members during the lockdown period and the significant efforts and innovation of Peggy the Field Officer, Jonathan Bhana-Thomson and other supporting staff were very much appreciated during this challenging time, for which the Committee offers its heartfelt thanks.

Membership

The Society currently has approximately 630 members. We used opportunities like the Thorndon Fair, Petone Fair, and the Home and Living Show to promote Diabetes Wellington and to attract new members who could benefit from our services.

Other achievements

  • results from the member survey were analysed and those results will help to inform the strategic plan priorities; and
  • the Shop now offers the Libre CGM product which is increasingly popular with those wishing to improve their blood sugar management.

Other fund raising events

One movie fundraising event was held: Rams at Lighthouse Cuba.  The event was popular with members, as evidence by the good attendance, and provided an excellent opportunity for fundraising and increased awareness of our organisation.

Acknowledgements

The Society gratefully acknowledges the assistance received during the year from so many quarters, in particular:

  • the Committee members who volunteer their time to run our organisation;
  • the volunteers who assist at the Centre;
  • our Newsletter wranglers, Jo Whistler and Jonathan Bhana-Thomson, who do all the heavy lifting in preparing that publication; and
  • our two paid staff – Peggy and Lauren – who have contributed to another successful year’s activities.

As a charity, Diabetes Wellington depends on donations and grant funding for its operation. We are very grateful for the donations made by members that have helped provide services.  We are also deeply grateful to the numerous organisations that have provided grants to fund projects, products and equipment, and have been our financial backbone.  A special thank you this year to the Brian Whiteacre Trust whose generous grant enabled the Society to update its aged computing equipment and, thereby, improved efficiency in the office.