Leprosy group ties with musical

SIMON ELLERY

Leprosy charity Lepra is targeting the hard-to-reach young British Asian market through the hit West End show Bombay Dreams.

The move is part of a strategy to shake-off its former conservative image and widen its donor base as it confronts rising numbers of sufferers.

New leprosy cases rose from 700,000 in 2001 to 760,000 this year, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organisation.

Despite working heavily in India, where more than 81 per cent of new cases are recorded, the charity has so far failed to attract a large number of British Asian supporters.

The latest attempt to crack the market was kick-started with the arrival of former Motability fundraising manager Paul Nixon who joined in April 2001. Nixon leads a 40-strong team reporting to Lepra chief executive Terry Vasey.

Under an agreement with Lepra, Bombay Dreams producer The Really Useful Theatre Company is hosting a special charity showing on 5 December with profits going to the 700,000 leprosy sufferers.

"We want to say to people that we are doing a lot of work in your country so please give something back," said Nixon.

Lepra is poised to commission research into the British Asian business market but in the meantime Nixon points to a huge potential.

"It is a vibrant business market that is neglected," he said.

Nixon thinks Bombay Dreams is the ideal vehicle to launch the donor drive.

"It's about the Bollywood industry which is set in Bombay and is one of the poorest areas in India."

Lepra was founded in 1924 and last year raised almost £5.4 million through spending £900,000.

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