Soaraway Shoot Up: To begin with, what is the Pendsey Trust?
Lucy Laycock: The Pendsey Trust is a small charity established by a group of friends, aiming to provide access to educational opportunities for those with Type 1 diabetes in developing countries, and to raise awareness of the difficulties facing such individuals.
SSU: Why did you and your friends start the Trust?
LL: I used to be a journalist and specialised in uncovering unheard stories from the developing world. In 2011, I was lucky enough to receive funding from One World Media to make a radio documentary (‘The Doctor who Dreamed‘) about the situation for those with Type 1 diabetes in India.
My cousin and grandfather are diabetic, and I was really staggered by the fact that those living in poverty with the condition often simply die, or face terrible health complications because there is no NHS and they cannot afford the cost of insulin (around £14 a month- two thirds of a poor family’s income!).
There is almost no international aid or awareness of the situation, unlike for other illnesses such as AIDS or Malaria. I travelled to stay with Dr Pendsey, an Indian endocrinologist who established the DREAM Trust around twelve years ago after witnessing the deaths of several children whose families simply could not afford the medication they needed to stay alive.
Since, he has saved the lives of around 500 people with Type 1 diabetes, partly through international fundraising but largely through his own generosity and determination.
Of course, the situation for these individuals has even more layers of complication – because there is a lack of awareness and education about diabetes, the children I met face terrible stigma. Some are abandoned by their families and diabetic girls are written off in terms of marriage.
Like Dr Pendsey, I realised that I must ‘do something’ to help those I met and others like them. After a lot of research, that ‘something’ is The Pendsey Trust.
SSU: The Trust aims to provide education for poorer diabetics, rather than just give them insulin? Why?
LL: There are some fabulous charities out there which are working to support the medical costs for such individuals (in particular I recommend checking out IDF’s ‘Life for a Child‘ programme) and The Pendsey Trust will also be offering the opportunity for individuals to sponsor children in this way.
However, primarily we hope to compliment the work of such charities through the provision of educational opportunities for individuals with Type 1 diabetes in the developing world. One of the things I most admired about Dr Pendsey’s work was his emphasis on sustainable aid. He understands that by giving an individual with diabetes access to education, they have the chance of one day securing a job which will enable them to support their condition, gain respect and even give money back to the DREAM Trust, thus preventing ‘aid dependency’.
Such educational opportunities can come in ;