Community investment scheme worth £140,000 to encourage BAME organ donors

An outreach activity by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha
An outreach activity by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha

A funding of £140,000 was distributed among 25 organisations as part of the first round of the BAME Community Investment Scheme which encourages organ donation among black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. The scheme, led by NHS Blood and Transplant, with support from the National BAME Transplant Alliance (NBTA), addresses the critical shortage of organ donors from these backgrounds.

As part of the second round of funding a further £190,000 was distributed amongst another 25 projects. As many as 211 events were held by organisations within the Hindu and Jain communities between November 2018 and June 2019, and around 900 people recorded their decision to donate, said a statement.

The leading organisations were Vanik Council UK, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, Leicester-based Santosh Community Centre CIC and Lightseekers Ltd. Other projects were delivered by Sewa Day, Lancashire BME Network and Global Kidney Foundation. Around 130,000 people attended these events.

They have designed and implemented projects to break down myths and increase support for organ donation after securing funding in October 2018. 

The projects were delivered by organisations representing Jain, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Swahili, black and Asian Christians, black African and Caribbean and multi-faith groups. 

Recently, the progress report of the first round of projects was published. The ‘Give Hope, Give Life’ project by Global Kidney Foundation focused on its nurses discussing organ donation during free health check-ups at churches, universities and other venues. Other activities include workshops at community events.

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha delivered outreach activity in the local Hindu community and raised awareness through social media, emails and leaflets.

“We have produced an information leaflet that specifically addresses issues that may prevent Hindus from considering organ donation. This includes clear encouragement from religious leaders and quotations from our scriptures in support of organ donation. Besides, patient stories from families in our community that have donated or benefited from donation have strengthened the message and highlighted the benefits,” said Sejal Saglani from BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.

“We have worked together with several Hindu communities and engaged over 2000 Hindus at religious events, workshops, and seminars.”

Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “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.”

“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,” said Millie Banerjee, Chairman of NHS Blood and Transplant. 

From 20 May 2020, all adults in England are now considered as having agreed to donate their organs when they die, unless they record a decision not to donate.

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