Interview: The Pendsey Trust

By | 5 April, 2013

Recently your soaraway Shoot Up was contacted by Lucy Laycock, one of the founding members of The Pendsey Trust: a UK-based charity dedicated to helping people with type 1 in developing countries. Eager to talk about a good cause and prop up our rather shaky journalistic credentials, Lucy agreed to help us out with an interview.

Lucy threatens Dr Pendsey with a microphone

Lucy threatens Dr Pendsey with a microphone

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 ;

10 thoughts on “Interview: The Pendsey Trust

  1. Faith

    What an amazing charity. I’m sure all diabetics from the developed world have minor frustrations when their diabetes disrupts their daily life, but this reminds me how privileged I am that my condition is not a barrier to having a career, friends and a full life. I’m about to look at the charity website and tell all my family and friends about the good work they do! Keep up the fantastic work! 🙂

    1. Tim Post author

      It certainly puts everything into perspective. We’re incredibly lucky to have been born in the UK with access to the NHS

    2. The Pendsey Trust

      Thank you Faith! I am not a diabetic myself however I have seen the frustrations faced by my aunt and uncle (my 9 year old cousin Charlotte has diabetes!) I really hope that people can unite and get the story about the situation out there. Do get in touch if you or your family/ friends want to know more and the many ways people can help-

  2. Tim Post author

    It’s worth mentioning that Lucy’s original documentary is well worth a listen. It can be found here and us just under half an hour long.

    Someone must have been cutting onions or something nearby while I was listening as my eyes got inexplicably damp at some points…

  3. Dave

    Perspective is the word. I recently had a sulky rant about having to go every two weeks for test strips to my local chemist that is five minutes walk away!

    Great interview Tim and Lucy. I wish you every luck Lucy in making a difference as you already seem to be doing. Social media is great for connecting around the world but it’s still primarily a developed world conversation. Would be great to have more interaction with those in less developed parts but I guess insulin is a much more pressing concern than a iPhone!

    1. The Pendsey Trust

      My friend actually did a really interesting piece on this, around how social media is increasingly getting used in the developing world. I do not reckon we are far off some of Dr Pendsey’s kids beings able to log-on and tell their stories- however for some of the kids I met out in the jungle and in the middle of nowhere, having a refrigerator seems like distant dream, never mind an iphone or wifi! Maybe for now, organisations like The Pendsey Trust will just have to tell their story for them….

  4. Megs

    I hadn’t thought about children being abandoned to their fate due to the cost and scarcity of insulin. I will not grumble about having to wait 8 weeks before being allowed a repeat prescription of everything I need and the support of a great diabetes team to help me. I wish you every good luck for this charity.

    1. The Pendsey Trust

      Hi Megs- thanks for the comment and taking the time to read our interview! If you do fancy learning more or have any ideas of how you and others can help, do email us at We are a tiny organisation (4 volunteers!) so any skills or ideas sharing with those ‘in the know’ would be awesome! Lucy

  5. Sue

    Oh dear, this article really does make us here think about how lucky we are. India is such a contradiction, such wealth and such poverty. I will deffo make a contribution.


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