When a loved one is critically injured or very ill, your life is put on hold. Before you know it, you are launched into a strange world of mechanical bleeps, life-threatening procedures and unfathomable uncertainty. Their recovery becomes the focal point of all your energy. For the patient, this is the time when family and friends are needed the most but also, this is the time when another group of people plays a more vital role in the patient’s survival – the blood donors. These donors, who once were strangers to the patient, are no longer strangers, as their blood now runs in the veins of the patient; enabling the lungs to breathe, making the heart beat. These things, without these donors’ selfless help, may have never happened and by their very effect, have saved the patient’s life.

So, June 14th 2014 marks not only World Blood Donor Day, but also the second annual life-saving blood campaign conducted by Young Planners, “I Am A Muslim & I Give Blood. We say life-saving campaign simply because it saves people’s lives; by both raising the much-needed awareness of the life-saving capabilities of blood donation and encouraging active blood donation. What is unique about this campaign, however, is that it is targeted at Muslims in the UK, most of which are from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds. There are significantly less people from these communities donating blood or registered as organ donors, yet these are the communities from which there is an urgent need for donations.

Young Planners is a small but growing youth organisation built on a team of passionate members who work hard to achieve change, diversity and positivity within the community. Our aim is to represent Muslims in London in promoting and encouraging integration, building on their skills and interests in order to become successful members of society - effectively paving the way for proactive, skilled and professional Muslims in Britain. We successfully raised over £500,000 over the last three years for various charities and we continue to work on meaningful and inspiring projects.

All campaigns are set-up to seek change. Ours is here to change the dismal amount of Muslims donating blood via the NHS. The national average of ‘active’ (people who have given blood in the last two years) blood donors is 4% of the entire population and if Muslims are missing in the numbers of registered donors then change is required within our community. The reasons for the lack of BME donors amongst Muslims span from a lack of the awareness of the importance of blood donation, to the misconceptions of the practice’s permissibility within Islamic law.

For these reasons, we felt it was incumbent on us to set up an annual campaign, in partnership with the NHS, which coincided with World Blood Donor Day; targeting Muslims in London. This year, this partnership is aimed at Muslims across the UK. This means it has the potential of saving more lives than before, by increasing the rates of blood donor registrations by Muslims across the country. Last year’s World Blood Donor Day saw us register an unprecedented 1,600 Muslims (across five of London’s central mosques) to the NHS’ Blood and Organ Donor Register in one day. We certainly surpassed any expectations because active Muslim donors are virtually none. Furthermore, we extended the campaign to the GPU 2013 in London where we managed to register an additional 650 Muslims to the NHS donor register.

This year we plan to implement the second phase of our aim which is to get live blood donations in mosques throughout the UK on World Blood Donor Day. In London, it will be within Regents Park Mosque, Al Manaar, East London Mosque, Finsbury Park Mosque and Brixton Mosque. The mosques in cities outside of London are yet to be confirmed but the cities we plan on having the donations in are namely, Glasgow, Cardiff, Manchester, Brighton, Cambridge, Middleborough and Birmingham. Confirmation of these cities will be announced in due course.

If you have never donated blood before, then this is a special invitation for you to do so. In the short time it takes to donate, you are giving someone the chance of a lifetime.

Yasin C

Communications Officer, Young Planners

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