It has been 6 busy weeks of parents evenings. We have held registration stations at Rokesley, Coleridge, Campsbourne and Weston Park schools. All schools hosted assemblies back in January and it was very encouraging to see that kids still remember Team Margot and what it stands for dragging their parents over to us to find out more and register. As a result we had 123 new registrations and many more parents were keen to find out more.
A couple of observations worth mentioning at this point.
It is amazing how we act (sometimes blindly) on the recommendations / persuasions / suggestions of others that we know and / or trust. At one evening, it took only one ‘cheerleader’ mum who knew me to get 7 other parents to sign up in a space of 5 min. It only took one phrase – ‘ I registered and you should do it too.’ …and they all did without questions or hesitation. Once I explained what is involved one of them summed it up quite nicely – ‘it is a no-brainer!’. I can’t agree more, but people arrive to this conclusion in different ways, which leads me to another observation.
It is widely known fact that ethnic minorities are under-represented on the register, so we were keen to sign up as many people that fall into this category as we could. It is bigger challenge than I imagined. It became clear very early on that many would avoid engaging with something that involves forms and has anything to do with blood (saving lives didn’t event come into the equation). Sometimes this was a language issue other times a religion was given as an excuse. However one lady who said she was from Pakistan surprised us and gave hope. While she was waiting for her appointment with the teacher we have approached her with DBCUK leaflet, but she said that her religion wouldn’t allow her to sign –up. She took the leaflet anyway. Instead of putting it politely aside, which is what was expected, she did read it, and then again…and again and then was called into the class room. When she came out we smiled and were about to say good-bye when realised that she was coming to us. After studying the leaflet carefully she realised that no actual blood is taken during both methods of donation and said she wanted to sign up as it was …again…’a no brainer’ and her religion wouldn’t be an issue here. We had a short chat afterwards, as I was curious to find out how we can get people like her to engage and learn more about stem cell donation. The answer was simple – their communities are tight and we would need to engage with someone that has respect and authority to get the message out, as not many would take the time to read a leaflet. We go back to the first observation – cheerleading approach works. We, as humans, are programmed to be more receptive to recommendations and enforcements from people we know and trust.
It is humbling to see what CrouchEnd4 Margot as a local awareness drive have managed to achieve in just 2 months. At the beginning of January this year only 135 people in the area were on the register (and that is registrations over 2 years!). As of last night we have added another 567 potential life savers and they have now became our little ‘army’ of messengers (‘cheerleaders’). We hear people talk about stem cells on playground, at the gym, at school gates. A couple of parents have asked for leaflets to take to work and share with their colleagues. These are all encouraging signs that the campaign is working and brining results, but it is still a drop in a relatively dry pool – the stem cells donor pool. We’ve heard a lot of ‘I had no idea how easy it is!’ or ‘Why aren’t we told about this [when donating blood]’ or ‘It is amazing how far the science have gone’. All suggest that we still have a long way to go, so our work continues. All schools have asked to have registrations stations at their spring and summer fairs which tend to be open to general public, so more people can sign up and more people could spread the word.
If you are a parent and would like to get involved please do get in touch…we need more ‘cheerleaders’ to help us fill that pool and save more lives.