Charity Promotes Stem Cell Awareness to Young People

Grassroots group One Voice Blackburn is to get a share of £685,000 Government funding to deliver projects encouraging more Black and Asian people to become stem cell donors.

The Community Grants Programme, previously known as the Community Investment Scheme, is managed by NHS Blood and Transplant and helps to fund community, faith, or belief organisations to deliver projects that encourage more Black and Asian people to become donors.

One Voice Blackburn will be running their ‘We are All Heroes’ project throughout East Lancashire, raising awareness among young people through local colleges and events. The charity has successfully worked with NHS Blood and Transplant since 2015 to promote education and awareness of blood and organ donation.

More donors are urgently needed because the shortage of donors from Black and Asian communities means patients from these communities can have worse outcomes. People from the same ethnic background are more likely to be a match.

White patients have about 80-90% chance of finding a stem cell match from a stranger. However Black, Asian and mixed race people can only find a stem cell match from a stranger around 30-40% of the time.

The Community Grants Programme scheme has shown that enabling grassroots organisations to champion organ, blood and stem cell donation in a culturally relevant way increases awareness and engagement, helping move towards greater health equality and a more diverse donor base.

A total of £685,000 has been distributed among community-based projects across England and Wales. 

Successful projects include One Voice Blackburn, a charity that aspires to create cohesive, aspirational, and confident communities in Blackburn with Darwen. Nazia Khan, Health Lead, One Voice Blackburn says: “We have a long standing relationship with NHS Blood and Transplant to encourage greater awareness of organ donation and transplants. We are obviously thrilled to receive further funding to enlighten the South Asian heritage communities in the area of stem cell donation, particularly young people.” 

Altaf Kazi, Assistant Director, Partnerships and Community Engagement at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We have seen first-hand the abilities of trusted individuals and community groups to prompt conversation, tackle misinformation, educate, and offer reassurance around donation. 

“Often a person’s best donor match will share their ethnicity, but too many donation opportunities are missed because families haven’t discussed organ donation, and Black and Asian people are seriously under-represented when it comes to donating blood and stem cells.  

“We are really excited to work with these grassroots champions to address inequalities and help save more lives.”

Henny Braund MBE, Chief Executive at Anthony Nolan, said: “At Anthony Nolan, we’re proud to work with our partners to fund the Community Grants Programme. There are long-standing disparities in access to lifesaving stem cell transplants, with people from a minority ethnic background still much less likely to find a match from an unrelated donor. 


Key Stem Cell Donation Facts

  • About 2,400 people in the UK need a stem cell transplant from a stranger every year.

  • 90% of donors donate through PBSC (peripheral blood stem cell collection). This is a simple, outpatient procedure similar to giving blood. 

  • Blood cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK and the third biggest cancer killer.  It accounts for 9% of all new cases of cancer diagnosed in the UK.   

  • It costs £40 to add each new donor to the register so Anthony Nolan always need financial support. To join the Anthony Nolan register, you must be 16-30 and healthy. 

  • To join the NHSBT British Bone Marrow Registry, you must be a  blood donor. Visit