The concept of setting up an Umoja Health Forum for Camden and Islington evolved in the late 1990s when a group of African organisations concerned about a range of challenges facing the African communities held a series of seminar discussions which culminated in a conference in 2000 where a range of capacity building issues were identified .Then, we worked loosely mainly to support each other as most of our organisations were in the early stages of development.
Coincidentally in 2004, Camden and Islington Primary Care Trusts Strategic commissioning teams invited African community-based organisations involved in HIV and sexual health promotion to set up a partnership. The aim of the partnership was to improve co-ordination of services and resources allocated to African communities and enhance working relations between local community based organisations. This invitation presented an opportunity for us to re-group and formalise our forum. The commissioning teams funded a facilitator to work with the partner organisations to develop a better understanding of partnership formation, structures and sustainability, and to develop partnership aims and objectives, action plan and partnership agreement.
The partnership agreement was finalised in 2004 and approved by partner organisation and the local PCT commissioning teams. Membership was opened to any not for profit organisations based in or offering services in Camden and Islington, managed by members of the African community and delivering services to African communities especially those addressing healthcare issues.
We are now inclusive of all black communities in London.