Acacium Group Diversity and Inclusion Networks supporting blood donation

The need for blood is constant but only about 3% of age-eligible people donate blood every year. Acacium Group’s employee networks have been working to spread awareness of the importance of blood donation, dispelling some of the myths and addressing concerns of prospective donors, acting as a call to arms for those in need of c303 million units of blood across the globe every year. 

From surgery and childbirth, accidents to anemia, anyone can find themselves in need of a blood transfusion at some point in their life. This is why the diversity of donors is so important – and why our employee networks are championing the cause. 

Race and Equality Network call for more black and minority ethnic donors 

Despite representing approximately 4.6% of England’s population individuals from African-Caribbean heritage, only represent 1% of the current blood donor pool. As the donor landscape is changing, there is a need for everyone to understand the many factors that affect blood donation within certain communities, such as faith, culture, and tradition. 

The need for donations from black, Asian and minority ethnic donors is in particularly high demand as a number of blood conditions, like sickle cell disease, most commonly affects these communities. The best match typically comes from donors from the same ethnic background which is why more are so desperately needed. 

Acacium Group’s Race and Equality Network (REN) have been exploring the topic with a series of insightful blogs and videos sharing employees’ personal experiences, including Leela Saunders, Acacium Group’s Compliance Advisor and REN member. 

Having wanted to give blood for years but put off by the thought of needles, Leela overcame her fears and agreed to record her experience as a first-time donor. She discovered her blood type is AB, found in just 1 in 50 people, making her donation hugely valuable in supporting those who need it. Like the majority of people who donate, Leela found it to be a hugely rewarding experience and her actions have encouraged others to get involved. 

“I had to share this video and experience with all my family and colleagues so that any fears they have can be put at ease. I definitely will be donating again and a few of my colleagues have also asked to accompany me. Hopefully I can get a lot more of the team to visit their local donation centre and help save someone’s life.” 

UNITY challenging stigma and misinformation  

In 2021, the UK overturned the 1985 ban that prevented gay and bisexual men from donating blood. This was a huge step forward in overcoming the stigma associated with the HIV and AIDS epidemic of the 1970s and 80s, opening the doors to new donors and making it possible to save more lives. 

This topic was explored by Acacium Group’s UNITY Network, which is a community and safe space for LGBTQ+ colleagues and their allies. Senior Project Coordinator and UNITY member, Sean Obrien, looked at the history of the ban and how its legacy continues to affect the LGBTQ+ community today. 

“It is so important we continue to challenge the misinformation regarding blood donation as it has contributed to the stigma’s the LGBTQ+ community has faced and continues to face. Gay and bisexual men are not inherently “high-risk” sexually and their blood is intrinsically no different to anybody elses.” 

Menopeers raising awareness of blood donation in menopause  

Donating can temporarily lower blood pressure as your body starts to replace the amount you have given. In women this process is slower, so the regularity at which men and women can donate blood is different, with men invited to donate every 12 weeks and women every 16. This doesn’t impact a woman’s ability to donate but is something to be aware of. It’s particularly important to consider as we get older as low iron can exacerbate menopausal symptoms such as fatigue. 

Acacium Group’s meno-community supports everyone affected by the menopause transition, whether it’s a personal experience or colleagues looking to be there for a partner or parent. Learning and Development partner and Menopeers Lead, Deborah Gemmell, took the opportunity to share her experience as a long term doner, and how donations are impacting her differently at this stage of her life. 

“My biggest learnings have been to take the messages my body is telling me – to get enough sleep, and rest, eat healthily and drink lots of water. This helps the recovery process, but as with all things if you are feeling tired be kind to yourself and stop doing things that exert you.  You need to let them know if you are on any medication for your menopause transition, but this does not stop you from giving. My next donation is number 41 and I am well on my way to my next milestone of 50 donations where I’ll receive a gold donor card, badge and certificate.” 

Feeling inspired? 

As our team have shown, giving blood is an incredible way to help a stranger in need. It’s safe, easy and takes less than an hour to save up to three lives with just one donation. The NHS blood and transplant service need; 

  • Around 135,000 new donors a year to replace those who can no longer donate 
  • 40,000 more black donors to meet growing demand for better-matched blood 
  • 30,000 new donors with priority blood types such as O negative every year 
  • More young people to start giving blood so we can make sure we have enough blood in the future 

If you’re feeling inspired, visit Give blood, to complete the simple steps to register and donate at a nearby clinic. 

Still interested? Why not read another of our articles here