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#BleedForEngland and Become a Different Type of Hero

Justine Brodie on NHS's latest blood donation campaign
This article originally appeared on the FleishmanHillard blog, and can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/FHbleedforengland


Imagine if you could save the lives of three people tomorrow morning. In just one hour. Wouldn't you feel like a superhero?

Well, no need to imagine, as giving one pint of blood to the NHS can save up to three lives. While I appreciate not everyone is eligible to give blood, I always wonder why those who can, don't. It seems like such a simple act that can make such a difference. A part of this must be down to a lack of awareness - of how small the current number of donors remains and how important and vital giving blood is. Over 6,000 donations of blood are needed every day to meet hospital demand and it was announced last week that less than 3% of people aged between 17 and 70 living in England have donated blood in the last year.

Capitalising on the Rugby World Cup, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has launched a campaign calling on 100,000 new volunteers to show their support for England by registering to become a blood donor between 15th August, the date of England’s first warm-up match, and 31st October, the date of the tournament’s final.

The Bleed For England campaign works because they’ve created easy-to-share videos featuring high profile and well-respected current and former rugby players backing the cause. The content is emotive, engaging and leads with a clear call to action. It includes an advert voiced by Sir John Hurt asking the public to support England ‘in a way that really matters’, as well as a video featuring former England rugby players, including Jonny Wilkinson, Martin Johnson and Ben Kay, backing the campaign and donating their own blood, which is later mixed with red ink and water by artist David Bayo, to create a blood rose artwork. Twitter is brimming with people sharing the videos, as well as photos of themselves donating and using the hashtag #BleedForEngland.

Of course international rugby players aren’t allowed to donate during the rugby season. As such, to add some light amusement to the campaign, they’ve roped in players to support the cause by covering people’s jobs for an hour so the employee can go and give blood. Named the Blood Substitutes, this trick has created yet more shareable content, like this video of James Haskell covering the job of a doorman at the Hilton.

But while online engagement is all good and well, is the campaign achieving its aims? Well, it's easy to see the impact of the campaign, with a totaliser on the NHSBT website showing its progress. As I write this, it’s been 2 weeks since the Rugby World Cup Opening Ceremony and they have already reached 56% of their target.


So whether it's because it saved the life of someone you know, or it makes you feel like a superhero...or it's just for the free juice and biscuits - if you can give blood, I really hope you do. Go ahead, support the campaign and #BleedForEngland. Who knows how far England will get in the Rugby World Cup, but either way, I hope NHSBT make it to the 100,000 mark by 31st October.

You can register to become a blood donor on the NHS Give Blood website at http://www.blood.co.uk/
  

1st October 2015

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