Walsall artist’s work on show in House of Commons

A piece of art inspired by a Walsall woman’s experience of living with diabetes has been selected for an exhibition at the House of Commons.

Marion Biddell's art is being displayed in the House of Commons
Marion Biddell's art is being displayed in the House of Commons

It forms part of a campaign by leading charity Diabetes UK to highlight the need for a national recovery plan to tackle the backlog in diabetes care caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rushall grandmother-of-six Marion Biddell, 65, who is a keen painter, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2009.

Marion Biddell

She created the artwork, entitled “Trying to keep a positive balance in a world of blame” as she feels people living with the condition are criticised and blamed for having the condition and she often feels, unsupported, not heard and judged.

Her painting shows a woman balancing on a tightrope in a bubble and on the outside there are fingers pointing at her.

Marion said: “Life can be hectic, but sometimes lonely and this is one of the reasons I started created my artwork.

“Living with type 2 diabetes is often hard and it is relentless. One of the hardest parts of living with the condition has been the stigma attached to it.

“I don’t feel like people want to help us, there’s just lots of judgement and blame and it’s hard to face that every day.

“I’m a carer for my husband and father. The lockdown was tough for us. I couldn’t go out and food parcels we were receiving were appreciated, but they contained food which made it hard to keep my blood sugar levels at a steady level.

“I did start putting on weight and wasn’t looking after myself properly.

“I didn’t see a health care professional for 18 months, I felt very alone and stopped caring for myself properly.

“But decided to step up and do something about it at the beginning of this year. I’ve been eating healthier and have not only lost weight but started to maintain much better control of my blood sugar levels.

“My piece of art demonstrates what it feels like for me living with type 2 diabetes every day. It’s a balancing act which I have to perform while people are pointing their judgemental finger at me. I am very happy to support Diabetes UK’s campaign and hope it raises awareness.”

Her painting went on display in the House of Commons on April 20 to coincide with the launch of a report from Diabetes UK as part of its Diabetes is Serious campaign.

Entitled Recovering Diabetes Care: Preventing the Mounting Crisis, the report shows the scale of the problem and sets out a series of calls to the UK Government to tackle it.

It is informed by a survey of more than 10,000 people living with and affected by diabetes, which revealed:

· Almost half (47 per cent) had experienced difficulties managing their condition in 2021.

· 63 per cent attributed this in part to not having sufficient access to their healthcare team, rising to 71 per cent in the most deprived areas of the country.

· One in six reported no contact whatsoever about their diabetes with their healthcare team since before the pandemic.

The charity warned that despite the tireless efforts of the NHS through the pandemic, many people living with the condition haven been “pushed to the back of the queue” and are still struggling to access the care they need.

This puts them at risk of serious complications, which can lead to premature death.

Peter Shorrick, Diabetes UK Midlands and East Regional Head, said: “Marion has produced a wonderful artistic representation of just how challenging it can be to live with diabetes day in day out, and why it is so important for the estimated 4.9 million people who have the condition in the UK to be supported by healthcare professionals.

“Diabetes UK’s report shows that in too many cases, people with diabetes have not been able to access that support during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Urgent action is now required, which is why we’re calling on the UK Government to implement a recovery plan for diabetes care. We need to get this essential, life-saving care back on track, or lives will be needlessly lost.”

People can add their voice to the Diabetes Is Serious campaign at: diabetes.org.uk/get_involved/campaigning/diabetes-is-serious.

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