Diabetes UK and Root to Branch: Fight For Flash – Using Engaging Networks to create Adaptable Email To MP Actions

This case study was drafted by Keira Roth, UK Business Development Director

What is Flash? Not something moving extraordinarily fast but rather something that can change people’s lives. Flash is a modern technology for people with type one diabetes; it monitors blood sugar levels without having to do a finger prick. The positive benefits of Flash are many: because it is considerably less invasive, it means that people are more likely to test more. The implications of this are that people with type one diabetes are able to monitor their condition better. This ultimately leads to a reduction in complications and hospital admissions.


Flash costs around £120 a month per patient and was made available on the NHS in November 2017 to specific groups of patients. This was taken up in Wales and Northern Ireland, who started prescribing Flash to patients. However it was left to local decision makers whether or not to follow the recommended guidelines and it became a postcode lottery. For everyone to be able to access Flash who needed it, 200 Clinical Commissioning Groups and 14 Health Boards needed to agree to prescribe Flash.

Only very few people who needed it actually had access to this important health technology. Diabetes UK wanted everybody who could benefit from Flash and met the criteria to have access on prescription. Unfortunately, CCGs often came up with their own criteria, which could be different to a neighbouring area.


Initially, Diabetes UK asked supporters to write to their CCGs. This had limited success and found the target contacts to be fairly unresponsive. For this reason Diabetes UK concentrated their efforts at MPs instead. MPs are more accustomed to being lobbied and so via an email-to-target action, we asked them to attend an event in Parliament, and to contact their CCGs directly. Diabetes believed that this would appeal to MPs as it was ‘hyper local’ and related to their constituents directly.

People with Flash told Diabetes UK that Flash had changed their lives, so Diabetes felt that they needed to make this action stand out.


Working with Glyn Thomas (Root to Branch), Diabetes UK wanted to create ‘finger prick’ calculator. This would calculate the number of finger pricks someone with type one diabetes had done in their lives. They wanted that number to be imposed into the emails to the MPs and MSPs, and also onto a shareable image. Finally, Diabetes UK also wanted a totaliser on the page to add up the total of finger pricks done by all action takers.


Clinical Commissioning group boundaries are not the same as MP constituencies, so the content within the email needed to be personalised depending on whether or not the Clinical Commissioning Groups in the local area were or were not already offering Flash. Different Clinical Commissioning Groups within an MP’s constituency may have different prescribing rules regarding Flash. This further highlighted the postcode lottery; an MP may get messages from two people, one in an area whose CCG provides Flash, and another who does not. Root to Branch used additional data lookups which inserted a variable paragraph about Flash availability which added another level of personalisation. Finally, the email invited the MP or MSP to an event in Parliament.


The team at Diabetes UK produced 3 images for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Each had a space that inserted the all-important personalised finger prick number and a separate script took the data from the hidden field and placed it onto the relevant share image. This used some interesting technical work-arounds to overcome challenges such as how Facebook caches data and makes it tricky to re-create new images, which they needed in order to change the personal finger prick number.

Instagram was only presented as an option for mobile and the image was shared directly through the app on their phone, making a seamless experience for the campaigner. There was a fallback option for supporters who decided to not share their personal data, and the image shared the aggregate finger prick number from the totaliser.


2700 people took the action
400 shares on social media
55 MPs wrote to their CCGs (that they were aware of)
3 MPs set up their own petitions
One MP used the number of finger pricks in a speech
Great feedback from MPs


As with many great campaigns, alongside the digital work was a huge amount of local action, such as meeting with CCGs directly, attending council meetings and asking questions. Unexpected media attention came when Prime Minister Theresa May met with Donald Trump and was photographed with her Flash on her arm. A lot of people were curious about what it was, and so the Flash campaign got a considerable amount of press coverage due to this.


It was announced on World Diabetes Day that the postcode lottery for Flash would end and Flash would be available to thousands more who needed it. Funding would come directly from NHS England. Although there still are people who are not able to access Flash on prescription, there has been an increase from around 2% to 12%, which was a huge win for Diabetes UK and those whose lives could be transformed by Flash.


At Engaging Networks, we’re proud to provide tools to some of the world’s leading nonprofits and charities. It’s our goal to help you succeed. This campaigning win for Diabetes UK isn’t just a win for the organization but for diabetics across the UK. Many thanks to Diabetes UK, Keira Roth and Root To Branch for sharing this tremendous work and case study. To learn more about Diabetes UK visit their website or watch the video below.

Chloe Green is a copywriter and digital campaigner with almost a decade of experience in the charity and political sectors. She’s delivered campaigns, copy and consultancy for a raft of good eggs including Anthony Nolan, the National Union of Students, St Mungo’s, and Hillary for America. She was Social Media Manager at the Labour Party between 2016–2019 and now she’s Head of Creative with the lovely team at Forward Action. She leads on fundraising emails, UX copy, and all creative facilitation. She’s an expert in email list growth, digital strategy, organic and paid-for social media, and digital mobilisation.

Rachel founded the specialist charity web agency, Rechord, in 1999. Between 1999 and 2012 they created hundreds of different web applications for organisations in the UK and internationally.
In 2013 she became the 'Donor Whisperer' and focused on helping small to medium-sized non-profits to reach new donors and activists and from there increase their income. She uses a unique process that combines the benefits of consultancy with capacity building.
Her clients include Traidcraft Exchange, the Overseas Development Institute, Jubilee Debt Coalition, the Leprosy Mission of England and Wales, Tax Justice UK, The Canary, Humanity and Inclusion, the Anti-Tribalism Movement, BRACE, New Family Social, Arseh Sevom - and that's just the last year.
She also feels weird writing about herself in the third person.

Ellen is Campaigns Manager overseeing national and local campaigning at the MS Society. She has worked at the MS Society for 2 and a half years, with roles at Scope and Guide Dogs prior to this.

Hannah is Senior Campaigns Officer at the MS Society, working on their local campaigning programme, Local Action for MS and also on social care and carers. She’s worked at the MS Society for a year and a half, and was previously at the MND Association and National Voices.

Executive Director of C6 Digital, London based agency

Emily has worked at Guide Dogs for the Blind Association since 2019, working on a range of campaign areas to empower people with vision impairments to live the life they choose. Prior to this, Emily working in parliament and severed as a borough councillor.

Brani Milosevic ia a digital consultant and coach at https://www.digitalleadership.ltd/
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Rhiannan Sullivan is the Vice President of strategy and partnerships of social action network, Care2.com. Over the past 10+ years, she has worked with hundreds of UK and EU charities helping them grow and develop their digital fundraising programmes. Prior to working for Care2, Rhiannan worked at then political campaigning agency Blue State Digital, a global leading digital strategy agency who has helped many organisations build and engage online communities, clients included political and advocacy campaigns, non-­‐profit organisations, cultural institutions and global consumer brands.

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Claire Warner is a former charity Fundraising Director & Senior Leader, turned Culture & Wellbeing consultant.

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On looking into what others do in this situation, Claire discovered the field of workplace wellbeing, the research work of Prof Cary Cooper, the Gallup Organisation and Simon Sinek, and hasn't looked back since.

In 2018, Claire created her own piece of research into the wellbeing of fundraisers and when it concluded in 2019, over 700 fundraisers had taken part. The results of the research were used to further inform and refine the work Claire does with organisations and individuals in the charity sector.

In 2020 Claire won the Best Digital Leader Award at the Social CEO Awards and in 2021 curated the first Charity Wellbeing Summit.

Today, Claire works on organisational culture and wellbeing projects with charities and offers coaching and mentoring programmes to sector professionals.

Becky has spent the last decade building people power and people-powered movements to hold the most powerful to account for a fairer, more just, and cleaner future.
She helped build 38 Degrees UK into a movement of over 1 million citizens and led many of the biggest campaigns. As part of OPEN’s senior team, she helped build and sustain a network across 19 different countries, by supporting, coaching, and building fast-growing digitally facilitated organisations.

She's currently Senior Strategist at The Sunrise Project leading the Global Banks Program and building grassroots activism on finance around the world. She’s on the board of Skiftet, Sweden’s biggest online campaign community and Left Foot Forward in the UK.

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Joe Derry Hall is a freelancer working on creative digital and communications. His interests include tech innovation, upending power and reimagining different futures. Joe has been the winner of a Mozilla Creative Media Award and the joint winner of a BAFTA digital award. He was previously in-house in campaigning and communications roles at Amnesty International, the Climate Coalition, the Ecocide campaign, Save the Children, Scope and others. He is one of the initiators of Right Way Up, an experiment to create a radical, practical new vision for the social change sector.

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