In Stockholm, blood donors get a text when they’ve saved a life

O- donors wanted in Sweden. Image: Geblod.nu.

I think I’d like to know when my blood is coursing through someone else’s veins. Great news, then, that a Swedish blood centres now text donors to notify them when their blood is used to help save someone’s life.

The initiative kicked off in Stockholm three years ago. It’s had such a positive response, on social media and beyond, that it’s now being rolled out across the whole country.

Image: Screenshot of @robertlenne's Twitter feed.

In fact, donors get several such texts. One thanks them for donating; others express gratitude whenever the blood is used. A spokeswoman for the Stockholm blood service, Karolina Blom Wiberg, told the Independent: "We are constantly trying to develop ways to express [donors'] importance. We want to give them feedback on their effort, and we find this is a good way to do that."


In other words, it’s a way of both making people feel appreciated, and, we suspect, reminding them that they might want to donate again some time. Nifty.

This isn’t the only way the Swedish authorities are using better communications to encourage blood donors. To avoid a shortage, the authorities have decided the best way is to be open and honest about how much blood they actually have. Dynamic online infographics keep track of which blood types the blood banks in various regions require to remain at safe levels in future. (You can see a screenshot at the top of this page.)

”The same info as we have internally is shown externally,“ Blom Wiberg says. The hope is that, in times of need, people will run to their nearest clinic, arms at the ready and give, give, give.

Maybe the UK could learn a few lessons here. According to NHS data released in early June, there are 40 per cent fewer donors today than there were 10 years ago. With stats like that, maybe we could all do with some encouragement by text.

If you fancy giving blood in the UK, then why not click here.

Kat Houston is web editor at Design Curial.

 
 
 
 

A warped mirror: on gentrification and deprivation on London’s Caledonian Road

The London Overground crosses Caledonian Road. Image: Claude Lynch.

Capital cities are, more often than not, a focal point for the stark divide between rich and poor – places where the most economically deprived meet the most economically empowered. In London, these divides can be more than stark: they can be close, even intimate, and there are districts where crossing the street can be like entering a different world. One such street is the Caledonian Road.

Known local as “the Cally”, Caledonian Road runs for about a mile and a half, from Kings Cross to the Nags Head junction in Holloway, and was built in 1826 to provide a new arterial route to the north from the West End. At first, developments on the road were sparse; among the first notable buildings were the Royal Caledonian Asylum, which gave the road its name, and H.M. Prison Pentonville.

For some time, the northern half of the road was seen as far removed from central London, which stymied development. It wasn’t until the latter half of the 19th century residential development really got going. By the time Caledonian Road station opened on the Piccadilly line in 1906, the area was flush with Victorian terraces.

These, though, mainly lay on the eastern side. To the west, the proximity of King’s Cross prompted the development of heavy industry, particularly the clay kilns that were helping to build Victorian London proper. The divide had begun:  the east side of the street, the area known as Barnsbury, was notably quieter and calmer than the west side. Ever since the 19th century, the ‘V’ formed by Caledonian Road and York Way has been known for a high incidence of gang violence and social problems.

As in many parts of London, the end of the Second World War brought a chance to start from scratch. Many of the slums to the west of the Cally had been bombed to smithereens, and those that remained still lacked gas and hot water.

But this was the era of municipal dreams: Islington council cleared the slums and constructed the Bemerton Estate. Instead of reflecting the industrial history of the area, the estate reflected Barnsbury back at itself, treating Caledonian Road as some sort of warped modernist mirror. The square gardens of Barnsbury were reimagined as the spaces between the highrises of Bemerton, and this time, they were actually square.

The estate was immediately popular, its open design prompting a renewed sense of community in the west. But it didn’t last.

Square gardens on one side, not-so-square on the other. Image: Google Maps/CityMetric

As far back as the 1950s, Islington had already become synonymous with gentrification. Forty years later, before moving to Downing Street, Tony Blair’s London residence was Barnsbury’s leafy Richmond Crescent. House prices in the area have gone through the roof and now Barnsbury is mainly home to a the professional elite.


At the same time, though, Caledonian Road’s warped mirror has given Bemerton the exact opposite: in spite of attempts to rejuvenate it, downward spiral of deprivation and antisocial behaviour have blighted the estate for some time The promise of inviting square gardens and communal living has been inhibited by crime and poverty; the gardens lie empty, while those in Barnsbury thrive.

The disparity of wealth across Caledonian Road is regrettable. That’s not just because it speaks to a wider segregation of London’s rich and poor – a phenomenon exemplified last year by the Grenfell Tower fire in Kensington & Chelsea, the richest borough in Britain. It’s also because, in the Bemerton Estate, planners had thought they saw an opportunity to offer more Londoners the idyll of square gardens and leafy streets, often reserved for the richest.

It might be too much to claim the estate as a failure; events such as the Cally Festival aim to bring together both sides of the road, while other council programmes such as Islington Reads help to foster a greater sense of neighbourhood.

Road should never divide us; rather, they should unite those who live on either side. The spirit of Caledonian Road should cross the gap – just like the railway bridge that bears its name.