Cecelia Shoetan (R)
Lifeline for Sickle Cell charity
A charity that gives support to people with blood disorders has been saved from closure, thanks to a grant from the Big Lottery Fund amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Support Group of Barking, Dagenham and Havering works with sufferers of these disorders. The organisation had been struggling to keep up with overheads as it saw funds for its projects cut.
However a lottery grant worth more than £200,000 means the charity can continue the work it does helping people with Sickle Cell Anaemia and Thalassaemia in the area.
Sickle Cell Anaemia is an inherited genetic condition in which there's an abnormality in haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein found in red blood cells.
It makes red blood cells become sickle shaped, preventing oxygen from getting through to blood vessels and causing severe pain and damage to organs. These blockages of the blood vessels cause debilitating episodes called a crisis. It’s often described as feeling like a miniature heart-attack and can affect any part of the body. As a result sufferers often have to be hospitalised for weeks at a time.
A sickle shaped blood cell
The disorder mainly affects people of African or Caribbean descent. However it also affects people from Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
Thalassaemia is another inherited abnormality of haemoglobin, more common in people of Mediterranean or Asian origin. The condition leaves sufferers severely anaemic.
Founder Cecilia Shoetan set the charity up after the death of her daughter Lorraine from medical complications brought on as a result of the incurable Sickle Cell condition.
The 63 year old from Colliers Row said the organisation would not have been able to keep doing their work without the grant:
“The grant couldn't have come at a better time as we had been forced to reduce our activities more and more. It’s not something we wanted to do but had little choice.
“When the letter arrived from the Big Lottery Fund I was absolutely delighted, and so were all our members, as the advice and services we provide could help save someone’s life.
“It will now allow us to further develop our Family Support Project and expand our educational programme to help people in the area have a better understanding of the illness, and also fulfil the needs of families living with the conditions.
“We have over 200 members in all and at least 60 of those are service users,” adds Mrs Shoetan who works from the group’s head office at Community House, Romford.
“Unfortunately there is not a lot of wider public knowledge about the conditions so the funding will go a long way to dealing with that issue. But we urge all sufferers out there to register with us.”
If you or anyone you know needs support or information on the disorders or want to contact the support group email Cecilia on firstname.lastname@example.org
last updated: 25/11/2008 at 13:05