Our Work

Serving People with Diabetes Since 1967

Diabetes Ireland is the national charity dedicated to helping people with diabetes. We achieve this by providing Support, Education and Motivation. Diabetes Ireland also raises public awareness of diabetes and its symptoms and funds research into finding a cure for diabetes.


In 1957 efforts were made to get a diabetes charity off the ground. However, it wasn’t until 1967 that the momentum was established for the charity to become a reality. Over 750 people attended the first public meeting of the Irish Diabetic Association (now Diabetes Ireland) in Dublin.


One of its first goals and major successes was to obtain free medication for all people with diabetes in 1971. Today, that success still holds in that every person in Ireland diagnosed with diabetes can obtain free diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol medications under the Long-Term Illness scheme. Diabetes is one of only 14 conditions listed under the scheme saving every person with diabetes thousands of euros each year.


Since then each year our organisation has gone from strength to strength as we identify and achieve annual goals. We have grown to become a strong and unified voice in advocating for better services for those with diabetes and influencing health policy in this area. The purchase of a state-of-the-art headquarters in Santry in 2013 considerably broadened our scope, enabling us to offer services directly to thousands of people with diabetes each year. The opening of a second Care Centre in Cork was one of the highlights of 2016.


With our comprehensive support and education services, our meetings, activities and regional services nationwide, our website and members magazine, we constantly strive to provide what our members need to optimally manage their diabetes. Today, our Aims are to:


  • provide support, education and motivation to people with diabetes, their families, and friends.
  • raise awareness of diabetes in the community and foster programmes for early detection and prevention of diabetes.
  • support and encourage advances in diabetes care and research.


Living with diabetes is not easy! However, with the right help, advice and support, there is no reason why people with diabetes cannot live life to the full. This is our goal. Each year through our patient education and information services we provide that care and support to thousands of Irish people with diabetes and their families when needed most.


Our Services

  • Patient support via our telephone helpline 01 842 8118.
  • Up to date information via our website, social media platforms, literature and our members magazine. “Diabetes Ireland” which is published three times annually.
  • Support for children with diabetes and their families through our Sweetpea Kidz Club for children aged 2-10 years, teenage activities, family weekends and parent support groups.
  • Direct health education for people with diabetes through conferences and our community-based structured education programmes.
  • Advocacy and liaison with clinics, services, the HSE and the Department of Health and Children.
  • Insurance services: negotiated private motor insurance rates, travel, mortgage protection and other insurance advice.
  • Anti-discrimination activity.
  • Professional support via major annual multi-disciplinary conferences, practice support packs and our Diabetes & Cardiology Professional magazine.
  • Co-ordinating national and regional local diabetes awareness campaigns about the symptoms and risk factors for diabetes.
  • Health promotion initiatives including school’s awareness, workplace awareness, early detection and prevention initiatives, and diabetes screening.
  • Funding Irish and international research via our subsidiary charity ‘Diabetes Ireland Research Alliance.


What did we achieve in 2019

2019 was a very good year for Diabetes Ireland as it continued to provide all its services to people with diabetes and their families. Financially, following receipt of two major legacies from individuals with diabetes, our financial situation improved, and we are extremely grateful to both families for supporting Diabetes Ireland.



A huge and welcome development for the diabetes community in the North West was the granting of permission to start the building of a new diabetes centre in Sligo University Hospital. Our local Sligo branch committee along with diabetes staff in the hospital have worked together for almost 18 years advocating for this development and to see the building actually begin to take shape is wonderful for them and the local diabetes community. Of course, advocacy work will continue to ensure that the centre is fully equipped and has the appropriate staffing resources in place to support the local diabetes community in the future.


Advocacy was one of the main priorities of Diabetes Ireland in 2019 and the formal setting up of the Diabetes Ireland Advocacy Group was a real positive step and highlights the intent of the charity to continue advocating for more diabetes service resources. The committee consists of people with Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes, parents of children with diabetes and advocacy staff. The committee met a number of times in 2019 and has representation on the Board of Directors.


The aim is to see improved public services, better and quicker access to new diabetes technology and medications and better recognition of diabetes by the Government and its public officials. Furthermore, a new cross-party parliamentary group on diabetes was set up in Leinster House with a view to highlighting the need for improved diabetes services nationwide to the Minister for Health and Department of Health and HSE Officials and to raise awareness of diabetes among our politicians and senators. Together, this will give us a stronger voice in making diabetes a high-level priority for future resourcing and funding. See https://www.diabetes.ie/advocacy-development/



Patient Services

Another priority was to ensure we continued to offer excellent support and services to people with diabetes and their families. Our care centres are now becoming more established in their localities, our children and family events continued to see high numbers attending and our health promotion team continued to deliver services targeting high risk groups and increasing their knowledge and awareness of diabetes and encouraging them to make positive lifestyle changes.



2019 Service Highlights Include:


Diabetes Helpline

  • 3,167 people contacted our Diabetes Helpline in 2019, an increase of 3% on the previous year.
  • 74% of helpline callers sought general information on diabetes.
  • 4% sought specific information on diet.
  • 7% on personal advocacy issues such as insurance, school, work and HSE services.
  • 15% sought information on upcoming events and other issues.


Care Centres 

  • 13,000 people accessed our Diabetes Care Centres which provide eye, feet, dietetic and counselling services.
  • 4,770 people attended our podiatry (footcare) services, 78% of whom live with diabetes.
  • A further 9,350 people with diabetes attended our Diabetes Ireland/HSE High Risk Footcare Service.


Website & Social Media

  • 273,922 visitors accessed diabetes.ie, an increase of 20% on the previous year.
  • 6,106 visitors completed our Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment online with over 2,880 (47%) classified as either high or moderate risk.
  • 9,427 visitors accessed our “Sugar Smart” microsite which offer simple tips in reducing over consumption of free sugars in a variety of daily lifestyle.
  • 20,000 followers on our range of social media platforms.



Health Promotion & Events

  • 338 people with Type 2 diabetes attended 28 CODE education programmes nationwide.
  • 3,939 visitors to diabetes.ie completed “Diabetes Smart”, our online interactive educational programme. The Diabetes Smart programme is based on the principals of CODE for use by GPs and people at risk and/or diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
  • 72 health promotion/screening events were held.
  • 4,163 people accessed our health promotion/screening services of which 374 (9%) were referred to their GP for further screening for Type 2 diabetes.
  • Over 2,000 people attended 13 public education meetings to share their experiences and hear from a range of diabetes healthcare professionals on all aspects of effectively living with diabetes on a daily basis.
  • A combined total of 99 teenagers with Type 1 diabetes attended our Weekend Camp in Barretstown and/or our National Teen Activity Day events.
  • Around 90 children and teens with Type 1 diabetes and their siblings took part in the Junior Cup.


Looking Ahead

While our goal is to ensure our services continue and expand, with the coronavirus pandemic, our fundraising has been decimated and currently we don’t know the impact this will have on our services as we look to recover from its impact. However, the board of directors, staff and volunteers will strive to ensure our recovery is swift, but we can only do that with the ongoing support of people with diabetes, their families and our corporate partners.


We need your Support

There are many ways to support Diabetes Ireland and this year more than any other we need the 225,000 strong community to support the charity and help it get back on its feet. While there are many ways to support Diabetes Ireland, one way is to become and stay a member so we can mutually support each other.


Our goal is to support, educate and motivate the diabetes community. The charity needs your personal support to do that. Saying that, we cannot express enough our appreciation of the ongoing support we receive from our current volunteers, fundraisers, healthcare professionals, members, employees, corporate supporters and the HSE for helping us help our community. We must all continue to work together for the Diabetes Community in Ireland so we can all live a long and healthy life.



During 2018/19, Diabetes Ireland Research Alliance supported the JDRF funded project “Harnessing vascular stem cells to model and treat diabetic retinopathy”. Over time, uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes can lead to blood vessel damage and complications. Dr Reinhold Medina, Queen’s University, Belfast and his team are developing a way to test potential treatments for these and investigating if stem cells could form part of one such treatment. It’s thought that up to a third of people with type 1 will develop some form of retinopathy, so it is important to find an effective way to treat and prevent the condition. Unfortunately, most currently available treatments for diabetic retinopathy focus on its later stages, by which time the person has often lost some of their sight. As a result, it would be tremendously helpful to have new treatments targeting earlier stages. Dr Medina’s project could lead to one such treatment, by improving blood vessel repair and preventing the later stages of diabetic retinopathy. This project was completed in 2019 and publication of the research findings will be available in due course.


From an Irish Research perspective, in conjunction with the Health Research Board, Diabetes Ireland Research Alliance continues to fund a project called “Towards novel anti-infectives with enhanced wound-healing for diabetic foot; CO- releasing star-shaped microbicidal polymers”. This research led by Dr Deirdre Fitzgerald-Hughes, Royal College of Surgeon’s in Ireland was officially launched in November 2018. Dr Fitzgerald-Hayes and team will develop and evaluate, in a laboratory setting, a new class of medication delivered directly to a foot wound. This new compound has the potential to effectively deliver enhanced properties to treat and heal infected wounds with diabetes. Total funding to deliver this project over the next 2 years to late 2020 is €170,000.


In conjunction with the Irish Cancer society, Irish Heart Foundation, The Alzheimer Society of Ireland and the Health Research Board, Diabetes Ireland Research Alliance also funded a study undertaken by Dr David Hevey in Trinity College which focuses on working with adolescents in low socio-economic areas to promote healthy behaviours through making changes to develop positive habits in relation to smoking cessation, alcohol consumption and physical activity that will reduce the risk of developing chronic illness in later life. The 2-year project began in 2017 at a cost of €180,000 and finished in 2019. Publication of the research findings will be available in due course.


See www.diabetes.ie/research/dira-annual-report/ for more information.


The Governance Code

Diabetes Ireland has a responsibility to provide and follow a code of good practice when it comes to how our organisation is run. We are fully compliant to the Code of Practice for Good Governance of Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations in Ireland. The Governance Code is based on five main principles and Diabetes Ireland is committed to adhering to these principles. Our signed statement is available to view here.

For more information on the Governance Code, please see: https://www.charitiesregulator.ie/en/information-for-charities/charities-governance-code



Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising

Diabetes Ireland is committed to complying with the Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising. The Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising is a guide to best practice developed by a steering group set up in response to the Charities Act 2009. To read more about our commitment to achieving the standards contained within the Statement for Guiding Principles for Fundraising here. (https://www.charitiesinstituteireland.ie/guidelines)

Our work would not be possible without the continued support of our members and supporters. To join Diabetes Ireland click here.  If you would like to make a donation please click here.



As well as maintaining current services, we are committed to growing our services long into the future. For further information on our plans see our 5-year strategy ‘Changing Lives 2016-2020’. The document is available to read here Diabetes Ireland 5 Year Strategy.




Updated July 2020