A charity campaign is calling for more Black residents to donate blood to help with lifesaving transfusions.

CommUNITY Barnet is working with Black communities in Camden, Haringey, Islington, Hackney and Barnet to encourage more people to become blood donors this autumn.

The charity says an uplift in people stepping forward could boost the NHS and help save thousands of lives. It cites pressures arising from the coronavirus pandemic meaning 16,000 more blood donors are needed this year.

Veronica Awuzudike, health and wellbeing programme manager, said: “We know some of the barriers that might prevent Black residents from becoming a blood donor but we want to find out more about what might be stopping people from doing so.

“Ultimately this campaign is about saving lives and we also want to get the message out that giving blood is a simple and easy process for most people and is a fun and fulfilling way of protecting the health of your community.”

The campaign is looking to boost donors to help treat sickle cell disease, which causes blood cells to be shaped similar to crescent moons. These abnormal cells can then get stuck in blood vessels, causing extreme pain known as sickle cell crisis.

Sickle cell disorder is inherited from both parents and primarily affects people from African and Caribbean communities.

To get the best treatment, patients need blood which is closely matched to their own. This is most likely to come from a donor of the same ethnicity.

The charity says 1% of current blood donors are Black – 11,400 people nationally.

Each month hospitals in England request 3,000-4,000 units of red cells to treat patients with sickle cell disease.

To meet this need, the Barnet group is setting out to recruit 40,000 more Black donors.

%image(15008694, type="article-full", alt="CommUNITY Barnet says the NHS is "critically low" on donors")

The charity will be working with local organisations across the boroughs and hosting public information events, including some that will help people to learn more about their blood type.

“Donating blood is a really positive and simple thing to do and it could save the life of our friends and family in the future,” Veronica added.

The campaign is also working with residents in Enfield and Waltham Forest.

For more information about the project visit https://www.barnetwellbeing.org.uk/nhs-blood-donation-community-coffee

To register as a blood donor visit https://my.blood.co.uk/preregister or call 0300 123 23 23.