How Diabetes UK’s #135shoes campaign became front page news in a week » Charity Digital News

How Diabetes UK’s #135shoes campaign became front page news in a week

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When Diabetes UK discovered that more than 135 people in the UK were undergoing toe, foot or leg amputations every week due to diabetes-related complications, and that 80 per cent of those amputations could have been prevented, they knew they had to do something about it, and fast.

With a little help from social media, the charity achieved its goal of bringing the issue to the attention of the public and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in just under a week.

To spread the word, Diabetes UK turned to Thunderclap, a “crowdspeaking” platform that allows single online posts to be shared on a wider scale, and “amplify the message” above the noise of social media.

The charity started its campaign first thing on Thursday, July 9, tweeting a link to its Thunderclap page at with the message:

Those who registered their support on Thunderclap automatically reposted the message on their choice of social media, further spreading the #135shoes hashtag, and introducing an exponentially growing number of people to the cause.

The hashtag not only organised the social media activity – it also formed the basis of a striking visual display. The campaign reached its climax last Wednesday, June 15, when the charity scattered 135 single shoes on a patch of grass outside the House of Commons in an installation that starkly illustrated the scale of the problem.

Charity supporters and those living with diabetes, as well as some famous names donated the shoes. Each shoe had a personal message attached about how its donor had been affected by the disease.

Among those who donated their footwear was former Tottenham player Gary Mabbutt, who earlier this year had an operation to remove an artery in his leg that was clogged due to complications associated with diabetes. The operation saved his leg. “I shudder when I think how close I came to losing a leg for good,” his message read.

Vikings actor George Blagden, who shared the Thunderclap message with his 46,000-strong Twitter following, posted a video of his visit to the installation with the message “please donate and spread the word”.

By Wednesday morning, Diabetes UK had gained 322 supporters on its Thunderclap campaign, whose social media reach, or the sum total of their friends and followers, totalled more than 300,000 people.

On the same day, Diabetes UK’s campaign was headline news for the Daily Mirror:

The story rippled through the news sites, with The Telegraph, ITV, The Northern Echo and LBC all reporting on the cause.

Diabetes UK’s story shows that if you use a smart social media strategy to push your real world awareness campaign, you can make a lot happen in a week.

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  • marry

    We need more campaign like so. I was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes and put on Metformin on June 26th, 2014. I started the ADA diet and followed it 100% for a few weeks and could not get my blood sugar to go below 140. Finally i began to panic and called my doctor, he told me to get used to it. He said I would be on metformin my whole life and eventually insulin. At that point i knew something wasn’t right and began to do a lot of research. On April 13th I found this book on I read the book from end to end that night because everything the writer was saying made absolute sense. I started the diet that day and the next morning my blood sugar was down to 100, the next day was in the 90’s and now i have a fasting blood sugar between Mid 70’s and the 80’s. My doctor took me off the metformin after just one week of being on this lifestyle change. I have lost over 30 pounds in a month. I now work out twice a day and still have tons of energy. I have lost 6+ inches around my waist and I am off my high blood pressure medication too. I have about 20 more pounds to go till my body finds its ideal weight. The great news is, this is a lifestyle I can live with, it makes sense and it works. God Bless the writer. I wish the ADA would stop enabling consumers and tell them the truth. You can get off the drugs, you can help yourself, but you have to have a correct lifestyle and diet. No more processed foods.

  • Ann

    I am so sick of seeing Diabetes linked with obesity – Diabetes 2 may be linked with obesity as it is a lifestyle choice for many but diabetes ‘Type 1’ that people like my daughter get from the age of 3 is not obesity related and yet they are demeaned every single day by ridiculous uninformed media sources that do not care what emotional damage that heap on people that have a truly awful illness through no fault of their own. Diabetes UK should hang their head in shame for not protecting people with Type 1 diabetes from this type of abuse.