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24 September 2014
Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

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   Coming Up : Inside Out - East: Monday October 16, 2006
Queue at diabetes clinic
Patients wait for a diagnosis of diabetes


Health experts are calling the increase in diabetes a secret epidemic.

It's believed that one million people in the UK have it, but many don't know it.

By 2008, treating diabetes will cost £1 in every £10 spent on the NHS.

To test the theory that people don't know that they have diabetes, Inside Out conducted mass tests of 600 people at random.

We focused our tests on three big employers in the east of England - Barclaycard in Northampton, Norwich Union, and Ipswich Borough Council.

The results revealed 20 people who needed referral to their doctors for further diabetes tests.

Over two million people

Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly.

It's a serious condition, which can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and nerve damage that can lead to amputation.

There are 2.1 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK - there are about 182,000 people living with the disease in the East of England.

Take the two minute diabetes test with Diabetes UK

But there are believed to be a further 750,000 people who have the condition without realising.

One in four adults with diabetes is therefore undiagnosed.

If diabetes is diagnosed early, it's easier for health providers to prevent further problems.

Dr Duncan Banks from the Open University says:

"I think the emphasis should be on preventing the disease happening in the first place.

"I think the costs associated with treating the disease is going to be much much more than preventing it in the first place…

"Public awareness is very important making sure that people are eating healthily and also exercising on a regular basis.... and this prevents you from getting these problems associated with type two diabetes."

Education is critical, and the Open University is now providing a course for people with diabetes, their carers, and health care assistants to help raise awareness of diabetic issues.

Pioneering centre

Inside Out also looks at a pioneering diabetes centre in Ipswich, which is leading the way forward.

Diabetic equipment
Diabetic equipment - insulin pen and blood sugar monitor

However, its future success is now threatened by health cuts.

Dr Gerry Rayman from the Ipswich Diabetes Centre says, "I think we've built some very good services for diabetes care… leading services in the world…

"And elsewhere, people recognise the high levels of service of diabetes care in the UK.

"Unfortunately if we were to erode those services… it will take a long time to re-establish them… potentially we are in danger of losing many of those secondary care services."

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Hatfield Forest

Man climbing up tree
On the edge - a forest is a fragile eco-system

Hatfield Forest next to Stansted Airport is an important green lung close to the built up area.

But in recent years the forest has been badly affected by pollution, and some conservationists feared it was dying.

The forest was also the scene of a major air crash a few years back.

Inside Out investigates whether there have been recent improvements in the forest's fragile ecosystem

Wildlife refuge

One of the surprising recent developments in the forest is that it has become a healthy refuge for wildlife as a result of the air crash site being cordoned off.

But with the forest being so close to Stansted Airport, the fate of the ancient trees still causes concern.

And with the proposed expansion of the airport, there are continuing fears about increased air pollution.

Ade Clarke, the manager of the forest, is fearful that the regeneration of the forest could be put in jeopardy.

Amazingly, Ade knows all the trees individually and he understands the importance of caring for each one.

The forest is especially well known for its medieval oak trees.

Only time with tell if the conservation efforts are working, and if the forest's slow death has been halted.

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Pawnbrokers' balls
Sign of the times - modern pawnbrokers are booming

It was between the wars that pawnbroking was most popular, with thousands of shops throughout the country.

Workers would often pawn their smart clothes on a Monday and buy them back for the weekend after they got paid on Friday.

Today banks and building societies are everywhere, but what if you don’t have a bank account or can’t get credit and you need to get hold of some cash in a hurry?

Then you might well visit the pawnbrokers.

Borrowing cash from a pawnbroker is more expensive than from a bank - the interest charged can be as much as 20 per cent.

Pawnbrokers have been around for centuries - it’s the world’s second oldest profession.

Pawning goods dates back at least 3,000 years to ancient China.

During the 1960s demand for pawnbroking dropped and the industry had a very hard time, but this all changed in 1974 when the Credit Consumer Act simplified pawnbroking and made it a more attractive business.

Since then the industry has blossomed,and today business is booming again.

The modern pawnbroker

David Carver has been in the pawnbroking business for the last 15 years and owns a number of shops around East Anglia:

"We are the people’s bank, we’re a lender of last resort. People come here when they can’t get money anywhere else. We provide a service. If they couldn’t get money from us, what would they do, resort to crime, steal…"

David describes how a modern pawnbrokers works:

"You can have either a one month or a six month pawn. At the end of that time a customer can buy back his goods. Obviously have to pay interest on top of that, which is around 10 per cent.

"If he can’t afford to do that and still wants to hold onto the goods, he can pay a monthly charge until he has the amount to buy them back. Of course at the end of the agreed time he can just walk away, in which case the pawnbroker now owns the goods. The contracts are regulated by law and you have to get a licence to be a pawnbroker…"

Not everything that’s pawned gets bought back, anything not claimed gets put on sale.

Regular customer

Pawnbrokers Fact File

Pawnbroking dates back over 3,000 years to the Chinese. It is also thought to have existed in the ancient Greek and Roman Empires.

The word pawn comes from the Latin pignus, meaning pledge.

Christopher Columbus’ voyage was funded mainly by the proceeds from pawning Queen Isabella of Spain’s jewels.

The industry today can be traced back to 15th Century. The Medici family was an important financial power, but when the family was split in two, one half became bankers and the other, pawnbrokers.

The pawnbroking group of Medicis borrowed half the family crest, featuring the now well-known sign of the pawnbroker - three gold balls.

Late 19th Century and early 20th Century Britain boasted almost as many pawnbrokers as public houses. They lent money on anything from bed linen and cutlery to clothing.

The recent boom in the industry’s fortunes came during the 1980’s credit revolution.

Bobby Kemp, who is 25-years-old, first visited a pawnbroking shop when he was just 16 - he’s been a regular visitor ever since.

Bobby has been out of work for the last three years - he and his partner get income support of £220, plus another £50 for child benefit.

They’re careful with money, but at times it can be hard.

Bobby says, "I’m in the pawnbrokers quite a lot. I pawn gold mainly... useful if you're skint.

"Benefits are not enough, so I'm happy to pawn stuff. I just use it to tide me over until the next lot of Benefit.

"You know you’re going to get it back and the service is cheap. I don’t feel like I’m being exploited."

Bobby often pawns his gold chain to carry him over weeks when finances are stretched.

"I think it’s a cheap way of borrowing money. My mum gave me this chain, but it’s in the pawnshop more than round my neck.

"I’ll pawn my gold chain for £20 and it’ll cost me £324 to get it back…"

For many people like Bobby, the modern pawnbroker provides an invaluable and essential service.

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