The Sickle Cell Society are delighted to be delivering a NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) tender of an initial 1 year pilot project, ‘South London Gives’, which aims at increasing blood donation in people of black African and black Caribbean heritage.
The project primarily focuses on four south London boroughs: Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark and uses a Community Organising model to reach into these populations. Community Organising is an approach that involves bringing people with joint interests together to take action and overcome areas of social injustice or inequality.
Our aim is to encourage black and mixed heritage people to talk about blood donation, breakdown some of the myths, preconceptions and fears that exist around the topic, and encourage people to sign up to become regular blood donors in their communities.
We were thrilled that the new Bishop of Dover and Sickle Cell Society patron, Rose Hudson-Wilkin recently signed up as a donor with the project.
In 2015 NHSBT commissioned a research report which detailed some of the barriers that prevent different ethnic groups from donating blood. In black African and black Caribbean communities this included a lack of awareness of the need for more black and mixed heritage donors; unfounded fears that donating blood can harm ones’ health, and negative experiences of the NHS. Read the report.
Many black or mixed heritage donors are not aware that you can still donate blood if you have the sickle cell trait. South London Gives addresses some of the recommendations in the report by training Community Advocate volunteers about the blood donation process and how they can talk to people about the concerns and fears that stop some individuals and communities registering to donate. They share their knowledge with their networks with the aim of developing a sustainable and resilient group of black and mixed heritage donors who are committed to giving blood and positively impacting upon the lives of others.
Although there is not a shortage of blood generally, NHSBT need to recruit 40,000 new blood donors of black African and black Caribbean heritage due to an increase in demand for specific types of blood to treat sickle cell patients. Sickle cell patients needing regular blood transfusions benefit from more precisely matched blood, this is most likely to come from someone with the same ethnicity. Each blood donation helps save or improve the lives of up to 3 people.
John James OBE, Sickle Cell Society Chief Executive said, ‘We are thrilled to have the opportunity through this project to make such a significant impact on the lives of people with sickle cell disease.’
Join South London Gives and help increase the number of black blood donors.
You can find out how you can give blood near to where you live here.
For more information about the project or to invite us to talk to your group, please contact: Tracy Williams, Project Manager, Community Organising: email@example.com / 07809 736099