- Africa Advocacy Foundation
Updated: Sep 25, 2020
We are proud to introduce ourselves! We are the One Voice Network – a group of 10 Black-led organisations collaborating, sharing best practice, and strategically mobilising our wisdom, resources and expertise in order to improve health equality and outcomes for all of the Black communities in the UK, with particular attention to those impacted by HIV and AIDS.
At our launch towards the end of June, The Rt Hon. the Lord Paul Boateng, lawyer and civil rights activist and the UK’s first Black Minister as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health in 1997, provided the keynote speech. He powerfully said of the Covid-19 pandemic and on-going protests: “If we’ve learned anything from the groundswell of opinion and activism that comes from the BLM movement, if we’ve learned anything from that it is that the status quo is no longer acceptable. Enough is enough. The health outcomes that we have had to endure, in which there has been obvious systematic disadvantage and discrimination are no longer acceptable. And to address those, we need resource, we need positive policy, we need to move from soft words and sentiment to strategy. Strategy that’s rooted in the commitment to change and to transformation.” As the One Voice Network, we will lead on mobilising our resources, knowledge and wisdom to usher in that transformation.
We know that, as speaker Susan Cole, Patient Information, Marketing and Membership Manager at NAM Aidsmap, remarked, “Black people are significantly more likely to be adversely affected by Covid and the anxiety in our communities is absolutely palpable.” We know too that all of our communities and community members are not the same. To truly address these anxieties, inequities and outcomes, the One Voice Network will take to heart the words of Dr. Vanessa Apea, Consultant Physician in Genito-urinary and HIV Medicine at Barts Health, when she reminded us to leverage the deep wisdom and strength that comes from diverse lived experiences: “We need to hear all of those stories, to know and to actively explore them, we need to advocate for them and ensure that the powers that be explore that … [so that we can] recognize the heterogeneity of what BAME is and the heterogeneity within each letter.” As the One Voice Network, we strive to address the critical health needs within all of our diverse Black communities.
Our strength as a network will enable us to “strengthen capacity” by “building the structures” that our eminent speaker, Consultant Physician in HIV medicine currently chairing Public Health England’s External Advisory Group for HIV and Sexual/Reproductive Health, Professor Jane Anderson, called for, so that “the entire group that will have worked on those projects will have had huge amounts of extra learning and capacity building as well.” Professor Anderson also connected the strength of the One Voice Network to the successes of other collaborative networks focused on HIV/AIDS, namely the Fast-Track Cities Initiative Roadmap and its work to reduce HIV stigma, transmissions and death by 2030. We know, as the Professor stressed, that our Black communities are stronger, together, and that by joining together, we can strategically leverage our expertise, address the diverse needs of our communities and our community members, and enhance our capacities to continue to meet whatever challenges come our way.
We are thrilled to be launching the One Voice Network at this pivotal time. We know that now, more than ever, our strength will come from amplifying our collective wisdom, resources and expertise. Join us.