NHS Blood and Transplant and MOBO have formed a unique and ground-breaking new partnership to launch an inspirational film called ‘Represent’, to kick off a social action campaign to drive young donors to register and give blood, especially those from black and Asian communities.
The campaign launched to coincide with the MOBO Season and is fronted by acclaimed UK grime artist Lady Leshurr, featuring leading British black and Asian public figures including record-breaking multiple gold winning Olympian Nicola Adams MBE, Chuka Umunna MP, TV presenter and wheelchair basketball player Ade Adepitan MBE and MOBO’s own founder and CEO Kanya King MBE.
The focus of the campaign is ‘Represent’, a compelling 1’44” film featuring artist and producer Melesha O’Garro, aka Lady Leshurr, who performs a song she has written specially for the campaign. The creator of the ‘Queen's Speech’ freestyle series and nominee for Best Female Act at this year’s MOBO Awards (held on 4th November at SSE Hydro, Glasgow) is featured on a rooftop, calling out “We all gotta take some time to make it right. We gotta take some time, give blood, save a life.”
Lady Leshurr said “Coming from the black community, this is a cause close to my heart. I really hope this campaign will make a difference, and bring about real change and help those that need it most. It’s now time to give blood and save a life.”
Currently, despite making up 14% of the total UK population, only 3% of donors who gave blood in the last 12 months are of black or Asian heritage. With people from these communities more likely to have rare blood types, it is important we have the right mix of blood groups available. People from these communities are also more likely to have conditions like Sickle Cell Disease or Thalassaemia, which require regular blood transfusions. For patients with these conditions, blood from donors with a similar ethnic background gives the best match and long term outcomes.
One such patient is Ummi Sani-Mohammed, now 17, who was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease at birth. From the age of 13 through until now, Ummi has spent most of her life in and out of hospital. All through her GCSE exams, she was unable to leave hospital so she sat her exams from her hospital bed. Ummi requires regular blood transfusions to prevent the painful symptoms Sickle Cell can cause. She also suffers from extreme transfusion reactions, due to the blood she receives not being an ideal match and each time she receives a transfusion, it becomes harder to match.
Ummi says: “I have needed regular blood transfusions since I had my first major crisis when I was thirteen. I know that the blood transfusions are important for my health, but it is hard knowing that they can also make me ill because the blood that is available isn’t the best match for me. Now I am getting older, I want to do all I can to make people aware of Sickle Cell Disease and the importance of people from all backgrounds, especially those from different ethnic backgrounds, to give blood. I want people to imagine what it would be like if your child or relative needed a transfusion.”
In addition to the need for more black and Asian donors, over 50% of all current blood donors are aged 45 and over, meaning there is a particular need for more young donors to come forward. The new campaign therefore aims to tackle both issues and inspire the next generation of young blood donors, especially those of black and Asian heritage, to come forward, start donating and become lifelong lifesavers.
Ian Trenholm, chief executive at NHS Blood and Transplant, comments: “We want to make sure we can offer all black and Asian patients the best possible chance of treatment – Sickle cell patients, in particular, need ethnically matched blood to give them the best chance of staying well. A big thank you to the many black and Asian donors who have already come forward, but there remains an urgent need for more young black and Asian people to register as blood donors to ensure we can help all of the diverse communities that we serve.”
Kanya King MBE, Founder and CEO of the MOBO Organisation explains: “MOBO has always had a social and cultural responsibility beyond the parameters of music, so we are proud to offer our platform and voice to play a part in delivering this important blood donation message that is fronted by talented MOBO Award nominee Lady Leshurr. With people from black and Asian communities more likely to have rare blood types, it is vital that we step forward and ensure we are represented in donor centres. By becoming a blood donor, you can become a lifelong lifesaver. It’s time to change. It’s time to represent.”
In general, as long as you are fit and healthy, weigh over 7 stone 12 lbs (50kg) and are aged between 17 and 66 (up to 70 if you have given blood before) you should be able to give blood. If you are over 70, you need to have given blood in the last two years to continue donating. To find out more or book an appointment visit www.blood.co.uk, call 0300 123 23 23 so search for ‘NHS Give Blood’ app.
The film will be released to the media and across digital and social channels and online at the ‘Represent’ microsite : www.blood.co.uk/represent
Notes to editors:
The full list of the celebrities and public figures featured in the film, include:
About NHS Blood and Transplant
It is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. We are responsible for ensuring a safe and efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England. We are also the organ donation organisation for the UK and are responsible for matching and allocating donated organs. We are an essential part of the NHS and take pride in saving and improving lives by making the most of every voluntary donation, from blood and organs to tissues and stem cells. Our work would not be possible without our donors - ordinary people doing extraordinary things by saving and improving the lives of others. Blood donors can search for sessions, book appointments, change/cancel their appointments and change their contact details in real time at www.blood.co.uk. There are apps available for Android, Windows and Apple Smartphone and tablet devices which enable donors to search for sessions based on their location and book and manage appointments. Our donor line - 0300 123 23 23 - is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. NHS Blood and Transplant needs to collect 1.6 million units of blood each year to meet the needs of patients across England. It’s important that we collect the right amount of each blood group at the right time to meet patient needs. There are four main blood groups – O, A, B and AB. Group O is the most common and therefore the most in demand. A regular supply of blood is vital – red cells last 35 days and platelets only 7 days. The overall demand for blood is falling by 3-4% per year. This is due to improvements in clinical practice and is a trend that is being seen around the world. The drop in demand for blood is also thanks to our work with hospitals to ensure blood is used appropriately for patients. We need just under 200,000 new blood donors each year to replace those who no longer donate for reasons such as ill health, pregnancy or foreign travel and to ensure we have the right mix of blood groups to match patient needs in the future Some blood groups, such as O negative (the universal blood group), A negative and B negative are particularly vulnerable to shortfalls. So we want people with those blood groups to donate as regularly as they can. We also need more black African, black Caribbean, mixed race and South Asian people to become blood donors to reflect the ethnic diversity of patients.
The 2016 MOBO Awards are being held in Glasgow on Friday 4th November and will be broadcast live on ITV2 and repeated on ITV on the same night at 10.40pm on ITV.
The MOBO Season calendar runs from 27th September to December. Other partners of the MOBO Season include: ITV, Live Nation, The Donmar Warehouse, UK Music, Mediacom, Havas, Saatchi & Saatchi, The British Library and The London Mayor’s Office. www.mobo.com
The MOBO Awards were established in 1996 by Kanya King MBE to motivate, elevate and celebrate the outstanding achievements of artists in publically underappreciated genres, from soul and reggae to hip hop, grime and afrobeats. A pioneer in its field, MOBO is revered as a world-leading urban music brand that successfully champions diversity and inclusivity in music and broader cultural arenas. Now in its 21st year, MOBO is not just an event – it is a movement. It strives to support emerging and independent talent and has backed some of our nation’s most-loved artists down through the years from Amy Winehouse and Emeli Sande to Laura Mvula, Skepta and many more. Beyond the realms of music, MOBO pursues its mission to create more opportunities and platforms for talent in film, TV, fashion, art, sport and media that might otherwise go unnoticed. A drive to deliver social and cultural change is embedded in the organisation’s DNA. With a tried and tested talent development programme, a number of Executive Fellowships in the workplace and a host of annual training and educational opportunities for young people, MOBO influences the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every year. From chart-topping acts, grassroots artists to aspiring apprentices, MOBO is there to empower and nurture potential wherever it may come from.