Originally from Zambia, Chikwaba Oduka has been working in Camden supporting Black and African communities for over 20 years. She is one of the founders of Umoja (formerly the African Health Forum) and has been second chair of the organisation for over ten years.
Created in 2004, Umoja is a partnership of various African organisations concerned about health, housing and social welfare challenges experienced by Black and African communities living in London.
Their mission has been to improve lives, particularly those affected by long term conditions including HIV and diabetes.
Umoja continue their work to support people during the pandemic
Umoja’s work has expanded even since the beginning of the pandemic; they now play a crucial and really important role in overcoming vaccine hesitancy and working with the over-50s to reduce isolation by organising various outdoor activities.
They have also increased befriending services with their mental health work to support and make referrals to mental health services for further appropriate support.
Umoija have increased mental health support because, due to the pandemic, more people are feeling anxious, depressed, stressed and fearful of what the future holds for them.
Some people have also lost their jobs and are experiencing poverty so they are helping more and more people to sign up to food banks.
Photo credits: Beth Macdonald, Etty Fidele, Gabriel Ghnassia.