LONDON: The UK government on Monday announced funding for several organisations working with the country's Hindu and Jain communities to address an urgent need for ethnic minority organ donors.
The organisations are launching projects to break down myths and encourage British Hindus to become organ donors after bidding for a share in an over 140,000 pounds Community Investment Scheme.
"The projects receiving funding will spread the message about the priceless gift of organ donation up and down the country at a community level, where it has the strongest impact," said UK Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price.
"If you are black or Asian, you will wait on average half a year longer for a matching donor than if you are white. Those six months could be a matter of life or death. We must address this by empowering communities to own the conversation around organ donation," she said.
"Giving the gift of an organ is a deeply personal decision and I hope that the projects funded through this scheme will help people to make an informed choice," the minister added.
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The scheme is part of a UK government campaign led by the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) Blood and Transplant, with support from the National BAME Transplant Alliance (NBTA), to break down what it believes are "myths and barriers" and increase support for organ donation among black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
The organisations leading the projects include Vanik Council UK, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, Global Kidney Foundation and Lightseekers Ltd. Other projects will be delivered by Sewa Day, Lancashire BME Network and Leicester-based Santosh Community Centre CIC.
The Community Investment Scheme was open to any faith or community-based organisation working within black, Asian and minority communities in England and Wales.
A total of 140,978 pounds was awarded to 25 projects, which was funded by the UK's Department of Health and Social Care with a contribution of GBP 2,933 from the Welsh government to support two projects that will be delivered in Wales and England.
BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha will deliver outreach activity in the Hindu community in Leeds, as well as in London and the Midlands, and raise awareness through social media, emails and leaflets.
The project by Santosh Community Centre CIC is focused on the Hindu community in the Belgrave area of Leicester and includes hosting awareness events and empowering community elders to be ambassadors for organ donation.
The project delivered by Sewa Day charity will engage Hindu and Sikh communities in Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham and Leicester through awareness sessions and partnership work with other faith organisations.
All organisations, invited to bid for funding by outlining how they could build support for organ donation, will use a range of methods to tackle the shortage of life-saving organ donation within British Indian communities.
Anthony Clarkson, Interim Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "The number of applications for funding reflects the passion for promoting organ donation and saving lives that exists in organisations across the spectrum of faiths and communities in the UK.
"Hearing a positive organ donation message from a trusted, a community-led or local organisation will, we hope, encourage more people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds to decide that they want to be a lifesaving organ donor and to share that decision with their families."
The organisations leading the initiative will evaluate their work after the projects have finished by mid-2019. The government said this insight will help to understand around the different approaches that can be taken to break down barriers towards organ donation across the UK.
The move comes ahead of the UK's plans for a presumed consent system of organ donation to take effect from 2020.
Under the system, a person will be an automatic donor unless there is a registered decision not to donate.