Diabetes UK defends partnership with soft drinks firm

The charity says the three-year deal, worth £500,000, includes no product endorsement or marketing

Partnership has brought criticism
Partnership has brought criticism

- This article was updated on 26 November 2018; see final paragraph

Diabetes UK has defended its decision to enter into a £500,000, three-year partnership with the soft drinks firm Britvic by saying the agreement will help the charity make a difference to children living with type-1 diabetes.

The charity and Britvic announced the partnership last week with the intention of supporting Diabetes UK’s schools programmes, which help schools support children who have with type-1 diabetes.

But the partnership was the target of media criticism over the weekend because the charity has repeatedly cited sugary soft drinks as a factor in the development of diabetes.

Britvic produces a number of drinks, including Tango, Robinsons and J2O, and also sells a number of PepsiCo’s soft drink brands in the UK, including Pepsi and 7UP.

The charity has said that the partnership was "subject to rigorous scrutiny" and that it would help the charity make a "significant, positive and tangible difference" to children living with type-1 diabetes.

The schools programme provides resource packs for schools to advise them on how to care for children with type-1 diabetes, and the charity runs awards to highlight and celebrate good practice in this area.

The partnership would also allow Diabetes UK to work with Britvic’s 2,000 employees in the UK to promote healthier lifestyles, and provide opportunities for employees to volunteer and raise money for the charity, the charity said.

Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: "Our charitable mission to fight diabetes is at the core of everything we do.

"Any partnership we enter into – including with the food and drink industry – only happens if we truly believe it will bring about positive change, and we firmly believe our partnership with Britvic will do just that. 

"Every Diabetes UK partnership is subject to rigorous scrutiny to ensure the partners we work with share our ambitions.

"We will continue to campaign with an independent voice and to call for any change that we believe is needed to benefit people with and at risk of diabetes."

The charity said that partnerships with firms such as Britvic were crucial to helping the charity achieve its charitable goals, and Third Sector understands that the partnership does not include any product endorsement or marketing for the soft drinks giant.

"We cannot tackle the diabetes crisis in isolation; we recognise thay partnerships – and the opportunities they present both to influence industry and to enable, expand and amplify our work – are one of the key ways to make change happen more quickly and ultimately help us make our vision of a world where diabetes can do no harm a reality," said Askew.

- The comments made by the charity have been updated because it originally provided a draft version of its statement

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