Campaigns to address the critical shortage of black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic organ donors has raised awareness in the London area thanks to ten local organisations who hosted a number of events for the public.
The projects are among 25 to have received a share a £140,000 Community Investment Scheme funding pot for projects to encourage more people from these backgrounds to become lifesaving organ donors.
The organisations who delivered projects in the London area include the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust’s Kidney Patients Association, One World Foundation, Vanik Council UK, Faith’s Forum and British Sikh Nurses.
Other London projects were delivered by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, City Sikhs, Global Kidney Foundation, the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) and Centre for the Study of Islam.
The faith and community based organisations designed and implemented projects to break down myths and increase support for organ donation after securing funding in October 2018 through NHS Blood and Transplant’s BAME Community Investment Scheme.
Now the impact of the project delivered by all ten schemes has been published in a progress report into the first round of projects funded through the scheme. The Global Kidney Foundation’s project ‘Give Hope, Give Life’ focused on the Hindu community in London and Birmingham.
Its nurses discussed organ donation with people during free health check-ups at churches, universities and other venues. Other activities included workshops at community events.
The African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) project aimed to challenge attitudes towards organ donation among London’s black community by hosting presentations at schools and community events, and through social media.
Orin Lewis of ACLT said: “The Community Investment Scheme has been a great opportunity to raise awareness of organ donation in the African and Caribbean community.
“For our community, the twin issues of mistrust of the medical establishments and misinterpretation of religious beliefs can be a real barrier to considering the subject of deceased organ donation. In order to start breaking down these barriers during the lifetime of the project we engaged the community by delivering numerous direct presentation talks and discussions.
“In total we engaged with over 15,000 people, at 15 events, workshops and forums and have encouraged nearly 300 people to become organ donors.
“The Community Investment Scheme has created the opportunity of supporting and enhancing the successful strategies that have emanated from this project to enable more future constructive discussion and debate leading to more sign ups to give the gift of life.”
The BAME Community Investment Scheme is an important part of a Government campaign led by NHS Blood and Transplant, with support from the National BAME Transplant Alliance (NBTA), to address the critical shortage of organ donors from these backgrounds.
Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “Organ transplants are one of the great success stories of modern medicine, saving millions of lives around the world. But what happens to your body when you die is very personal, and something that can be difficult to talk about.
“Building awareness is critical, and projects like this are doing excellent work with local communities and black and minority ethnic groups. This is especially vital as people from BAME backgrounds are more likely to need a transplant, but tragically less likely to receive one due to the shortage of BAME donors to provide the right match. To save more lives, we need to make sure these conversations happen.”
The evaluation of the 25 projects in England and Wales funded under the first round of the BAME Community Investment Scheme has now been published.
The projects were delivered by organisations representing Jain, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Swahili, black and Asian Christians, black African and Caribbean and multi-faith groups.
In total more than 200 community events were delivered while 130,000 people attended organ donation events. Around 4,000 people engaged in conversation or took away a leaflet or information and 8,000 attended a talk or workshop.
Millie Banerjee, chairman of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Because the BAME Community Investment Scheme aims to drive a conversation about organ donation, its impact can’t be measured in numbers alone.
“However, it is clear these innovative projects reached and engaged many people across a broad spectrum of faiths and communities and played an important role in communicating the facts about organ donation.
“We hope that hearing a positive organ donation message from a trusted voice has helped encourage more people in black, Asian, mixed race and minority ethnic communities to decide they want to be a lifesaving donor, and share that decision with their families. I would like to thank each of the organisations for their dedication to saving lives.”
The second round of projects funded through the BAME Community Investment scheme is now underway. A further £190,000 was distributed amongst another 25 projects all of which have an important role to play in ensuring that people understand their choices now the law around organ donation has changed in England.