Care for the Cold Campaign – dentists’ pledge to help the homeless

Dr Sophia Morris and Dr Andrea Cupidore talk through the ACDA's mission of helping the homeless communityDr Sophia Morris and Dr Andrea Cupidore talk through the ACDA-UK’s mission of helping the homeless community during the cold winter months.

This winter the African and Caribbean Dental Society (ACDA-UK) led its annual ‘Care For The Cold Campaign’ distributing vital winter care packs for those in need. The unfortunate devastating economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for many means this campaign was needed more than ever this winter.

ACDA-UK have longed strived to have an impact on the lives and hearts of the communities it serves. Since its launch in 2012, the ACDA-UK has grown rapidly to become a vibrant, active entity within the community. Whilst ACDA initially sought to increase oral health awareness in deprived communities, the presence of hardship became ever present. Repeated stories of adversity, severe poverty and homelessness, for example, became apparent.

One fifth of UK families live in poverty, affecting 4.2 million children with homelessness at catastrophic levels.

Serving homeless shelters

Launched in 2018, the ACDA-UK ‘Care For The Cold Campaign’ committed to building on already successful community focused initiatives to widen the support the association could give to those in crisis. Through fundraising, key essentials are purchased and distributed within a ‘winter care pack’. This is filled with essentials such as food, water, winter gloves, hats, socks, toiletries and dental essentials.

Through an established network of charity and voluntary organisations serving local homeless shelters, food banks, soup kitchens, each winter dedicated ACDA members of dental professionals and students volunteer to distribute winter care packs. In previous years, they also delivered free dental check-ups alongside dental goody bags.

This winter the 2020/21 ‘Care For The Cold Campaign’ – recognising the need for additional community assistance – our efforts were increased. Thanks to generous monetary and winter items donations, ACDA were able to distribute more than 500 winter coats. As well as winter clothing items, sleeping bags, shoes, and more than 460 winter care packs and hot meals.

ACDA-UK homeless campaignHelping the communities we serve

ACDA-UK was established in 2012 by Dr Olurotimi Adesanya and Dr Julius Babayemi. It was set up to answer the identified need for improved oral health awareness in lower socio-economic and minority ethnic groups.

Oral health outreach projects have been developed to support communities. For example, they break down some of the barriers of fear, mistrust and cultural misunderstanding. These have been recognised in these communities and prevent many individuals from assessing dental care.

The impact of dental professionals of African and Caribbean backgrounds going into their communities is profound. Not only can these dentists identify with many of the issues that are faced by these communities, they are also passionate about their role in helping to resolve them.

Additionally, they serve as positive role models. They give younger people real life visual examples of educational and professional achievement and success. Thus serving to motivate and inspire communities.

The initial focus of ACDA-UK quickly expanded past improving oral health awareness. For example, the association took on the challenge of contributing in a more holistic way to the communities it serves. The humanitarian efforts of the association has gained national recognition. It has also earned the ACDA-UK the GHP Best Oral Health Awareness Initiative 2018, 2019 and 2020.

At the heart of this association is a determination to make meaningful change through steadfast and heartfelt action. The aim of this amazing initiative is to keep giving back to communities that need support, ultimately inspiring the next generation and leaving behind a strong legacy of care.

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