Funding boost will help organisations promote organ donation in the black community

Thirteen organisations working within black communities are joining the campaign to address the urgent need for more lifesaving organ donors from black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic backgrounds.

They are launching projects to break down myths and increase support for donation and ensure that people know that the law in England is changing next spring and understand their choices.

They are among 26 faith and community-based organisations to have secured funding to educate communities about donation after death through the BAME Community Investment Scheme led by NHS Blood and Transplant.

The scheme is part of a Government-funded campaign to address the critical shortage of organ donors from black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Action on Blood is among the organisations launching projects focused on the black community. It will train five hair stylists and barbers in black hair salons across London and Essex as ambassadors so they can discuss organ donation with their customers and encourage them to talk to their families.

Abiola Okubanjo, CEO of Action on Blood, said: “We designed the project so that real people in the community would play a fundamental role in empowering others to make a decision about organ donation and share that decision with their families.

“We thought, who better to start the conversation flowing than barbers and hair stylists? It’s at the barbershop or hairdressers’ that arguments are raised or debated, the latest issues are dissected and judged and ultimately, opinions are influenced.

“Through this project we will ensure that it’s the truth that people are debating – not myth, not hearsay, not superstition. We believe it’s only when people know the truth that they can make the right decision.”

As well as promoting donation, each project will have an important role to play in building awareness and understanding of the upcoming law change as well as ensuring that people make their donation decision upon the facts.

From spring 2020 all adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate, known as ‘opt out’, or are in one of the groups not covered by the new law.

An opt out system for organ donation was introduced in Wales in December 2015 and in Jersey in July this year and will also be introduced in Scotland in autumn 2020. Families will still always be involved in organ donation, so it is vital that they know your choice.

Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Care, said: It is fantastic that more people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are considering organ donation than ever before. But it is a distressing fact that people from these communities are less likely to get a transplant than if they were white.

We all have a role to play – the government, communities, families and friends – in breaking down the myths and perceived barriers that surround organ donation. I am delighted to see the projects that will be delivering this vital work as part of our Community Investment Scheme and how they will change attitudes and save lives.”

The Community Investment Scheme was open to any faith or community-based organisation working within black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic communities in England and Wales.

Organisations were invited to bid by outlining how their project could positively engage their community in organ donation. All applications were reviewed by an independent judging panel.

This is the second round of the scheme. A progress report covering the first round projects is currently being developed and will be shared with stakeholders in the new year.

Millie Banerjee, Chairman of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We know that trusted, community-led or local organisations can make a real difference in dispelling myths, overcoming barriers and changing attitudes to organ donation.

“These innovative new projects will build on the inspiring work of those funded under round one of the scheme, bringing a positive organ donation message to an even broader spectrum of faiths and communities.

“This passion for saving lives will, I hope, encourage more people from black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic backgrounds to decide they want to be an organ donor and share that decision with their families.”

The National BAME Transplant Alliance (NBTA) is supporting NHS Blood and Transplant in the campaign to address the need for black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic donors, which was launched in summer 2018.

Kirit Modi, Hon President of the NBTA, said: “NBTA is very pleased that 26 new projects to inform black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic communities about the change in law and increase donors from these backgrounds have been funded.

“We hope this important work will encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds to make their donation decision and share it with their families and that ultimately will see an increase in the number of black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic donors.

“The work of community-led organisations is vital to delivering the facts through trusted messengers. They can help people understand that unless more people from their community come forward as organ donors, patients from their own community will continue to face unequal access to transplants.

“The BAME Community Investment Scheme is an important part of the wider activity and campaign to educate and engage these communities.

“NBTA will continue to work collaboratively with NHS Blood and Transplant and others to develop the community model so that it reaches a wider section of black, Asian and minority ethnic groups across the country in the future.”

Below is a full list of organisations that have been funded to deliver projects focused on the black community:

  • ACCM (UK), a charity working within African, Caribbean and Asian communities in Bedford, will host awareness events, engage with community leaders and train volunteers as community champions.
  • The London-focused African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) project will involve sharing videos of real life organ donation stories to engage young black people in churches.
  • Action on Blood will use the funding to train five hair stylists and barbers in black hair salons across London and Essex as ambassadors so they can discuss organ donation with their customers and encourage them to talk to their families.
  • BMECP is an organisation focusing on black, Afro-Caribbean, Chinese and Muslim communities in Brighton and Hove. Its project will involve holding awareness events and social media engagement.
  • The ‘Organ Donation Awareness in Bradford’ project run by Bradford College aims to engage students through awareness events, workshops and focus groups. More than half of the college’s student base is from a black, Asian, mixed race or minority ethnic background.
  • CAHN will use the funding to continue its ‘Precious Life Savers’ project which involves engaging with black faith leaders and their congregations and using digital channels to reach the wider community.
  • The project led by Health Action Charity Organisation MBE (HACO), a community-based health project for black African community in Medway, will focus on churches and youth groups and include training volunteers as organ donation ambassadors and producing a leaflet.
  • Investing in People & Culture (IPC), an organisation focused on black African communities in the North East of England, will use the funding to train community champions who will go on to run community meetings to encourage discussion around organ donation.
  • The Malcolm X Community Centre in Bristol will use the funding to host events at the centre and in the wider community to raise awareness in the local African-Caribbean community through real life stories, conversations and education.
  • Retired Caribbean Nurses’ Association will use the funding to hold six organ donation conversation events within Bedford’s African Caribbean communities as part of a project titled ‘One Careful Owner’.
  • The project by Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust’s Kidney Patients Association aims to engage young black adults in organ donation through videos and other creative content that will be hosted on an online hub.
  • Soma Healthcare Limited, which provides social care services in London, will use the funding to train 30 of its care staff working in areas with high black, Asian and mixed heritage populations as organ donation ambassadors.
  • University of Brighton will use the funding to develop an interactive event to educate undergraduate students on organ donation and raise awareness of the law change.

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