A charity dedicated to eradicating type 1 diabetes has said the support of the Steve Morgan Foundation is changing lives.

The Foundation is the biggest donor in the history of JDRF having given £7m, including £3m in Community Match Challenge funding.

As well as funding life-changing research it’s helped the charity deal with a £2m shortfall in its fundraising caused by Covid-19.

The Steve Morgan Foundation’s association with JDRF began after Sally Morgan’s son Hugo was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was seven.

JDRF’s spokesperson Allan Sutherland said: “Finding a cure for type 1 diabetes is just a matter of time and the Foundation’s continued investment in our research is bringing us one step closer to this, enabling us to accelerate vital clinical trials and boost our research portfolio.

“In addition to funding our life-changing type 1 research, we have been fortunate to receive a significant grant through the Community Match Challenge Fund, in collaboration with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

“It has been a lifeline at a time of great uncertainty for the future of the organisation, our research and community engagement work.

“It is allowing JDRF to recover from the financial impact of the pandemic, protecting the organisation and our staff in the short to medium term.

“It is also providing a unique opportunity for us to rise through the unprecedented challenges we face during the pandemic – it enables us to adapt and grow so we can respond to the changing needs of people with type 1 diabetes.”

JDRF was founded in the US in 1970 and opened in the UK in 1986.

Type 1 diabetes is where your immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells. When the body isn’t able to produce its own insulin, the level of glucose in your body becomes too high and requires regular doses of insulin to be injected.

Currently, scientists think that type 1 diabetes is caused by a combination of your genes and other, non-genetic factors.

Even in identical twins, who share the same DNA, one twin may develop type 1 and the other may not.

Type 1 diabetes can affect anyone, at any age, and it is not caused by poor diet or an unhealthy lifestyle.

Around 90 per cent of people with type 1 diabetes have no family history of the condition.

Allan Sutherland said a significant amount of the £7m received from the Steve Morgan Foundation had been spent on vital research.

£4m of the funding is being spent directly on medical research to help people with type 1 to better manage their condition until we find a cure,” he said.

“The Steve Morgan Foundation funding has enabled research into how people with diabetes can avoid low blood glucose levels (known as hypoglycaemia or hypos) which can lead to complications.”

The remaining £3m is being spent on advocacy and information support on behalf of people with type 1, with a particular focus on the impact of Covid-19.

As part of this programme, digital resources and data systems are being improved to provide a more personalised engagement for people with type 1.

Core organisational costs are also being covered which helps to focus fundraising effort on providing funds for type 1 research.

Allan Sutherland said Covid-19 had left a ‘huge hole’ in the charity’s ability to raise money.

“Lockdowns and social distancing have led to the cancellation or postponement of in-person fundraising events, such as marathons, cycles and walks, which has deeply affected the way we raise funds,” he said. “In the last 12 months alone, Covid-19 has impacted our fundraised income by £2m.”

He described the charity’s partnership with the Steve Morgan Foundation as ‘transformational’.

“Through their personal experience of type 1 diabetes, Steve and Sally Morgan are also helping JDRF to raise awareness of the condition and empower thousands of people to be freer from the demands of their condition,” said Allan.

“Working in partnership with an influential family who also understand the impact of type 1 diabetes has been a fantastic way to reach even more people and make a greater impact.

“The support we have received from the Steve Morgan Foundation has been truly extraordinary and we are extremely grateful to Steve and Sally for their continued interest and commitment in our work.”

Sally Morgan said: “Hugo’s diagnosis with type 1 diabetes when he was seven was a bolt out of the blue. Anybody who is aware of type 1 diabetes will know it is a 24/7 365 day-a-year constant challenge.

“It is the only condition where the medication that keeps you alive can also kill you if it’s not administered properly.

“Having type 1 diabetes does not limit Hugo at all but it’s a life-long condition and the hope is that JDRF will find a cure.”

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