A community centre in the heart of St Paul’s has won major backing from the NHS to spread the word about organ donation and challenge long-standing cultural views on the issue.
The Malcolm X Centre has secured funding from the NHS Blood Transplant Community Investment Scheme for an 18-month project to engage with as many members of Bristol’s African Caribbean community as possible.
The project has primarily been triggered by the upcoming change in the law – known as the Opt Out Law – which will mean anyone who does not want to be an organ donor after they die has to carry a card to opt out, rather than carry a card to opt in.
The law, which comes into force in the spring of next year, is also known as Max and Keira’s Law, after a boy from the north east whose life was saved by a girl who passed away at a Bristol hospital.
The NHS is embarking on a major national awareness campaign, and in Bristol that includes trying to reach out to the city’s African Caribbean community.
Broadcaster and community leader Primrose Granville, who is chair of the Malcolm X community centre in St Paul’s, said a lot of people in Bristol’s black community had cultural and religious beliefs that meant they were less open to the idea of organ donation.
“The project is particularly concerned about engaging our youth and elders,” she said.
“The Elders are the matriarchs and patriarchs of families and can positively impact the way their immediate generations think.
“Our young people are more open minded and with their wide engagement with social media they can get the message out to a group not geographically available to us. This will allow the project to reach our audience within their comfort zone,” she added.
Primrose has more reason than most to go on a crusade for organ donation, she recently celebrated the first year getting back to health following a live-saving kidney transplant in 2018.
(Image: jon Kent/Bristol Live)
The project will run until March 2021, and Primrose said she wants to have changed perceptions about organ donation. “We hope to have achieved a change in how our community members think about organ donation and a thorough understanding of the Opt Out Law Change,” she said.
Seven events will run over the project, not just in the Malcolm X Centre, but also in other places like churches and student venues.
“The events will aim to engage attendees on a personal level initially with the use of community members known to them,” she said.
“These talks will be both success stories on organ donation from both donors and recipients and factual information from our local NHSBT community ambassador, local medical personnel from Southmead Hospital’s Renal Team, specialist nurses on organ donation and other NHS staff.
“The project will be wide reaching and cover almost every demographic to which the project is aimed,” she added.
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