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Caribbean & African Health Network inspiring change

CELEBRATION: Rev Dr Silverson, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, Malik Annafi, Thelma and Rev Charles Kwaku-Odoi

A CHANGE is Gonna Come was the song performed by The Voice UK winner, Jermain Jackman and the perfect ballad to reflect the aims of the Caribbean & African Health Network (CAHN) as they celebrated their first milestone.

CAHN’s 1st Anniversary Fundraiser and Black History Month Gala took place at Manchester’s Mercure Piccadilly Hotel where almost 400 people came to mark the occasion along with special guests and performers.

The organisation has a mission to lead, educate, support, advocate and enhance the work of Caribbean and African organisations so that they are empowered and enabled to improve and sustain the health and wellbeing of the community.

CAHN’s chair and patron, Faye Bruce, inset above, said: “We wanted to celebrate achievements, recognise contributions, and provide a forum for our diverse communities to build networks for the future and have fun.

“African and Caribbean people face significant disparities across a wide spectrum of conditions.

“We face a higher prevalence of mental health disorders, cancers such as prostate cancer but also other cancers such as breast, stomach, liver, which are attacking black people in more aggressive ways.

“We also have higher rates than the majority population of cardio and cerebrovascular related conditions such as stroke and dementia. “HIV occurrence is increasing and is not being targeted correctly to reduce the prevalence and poor outcomes experienced by the condition. “Furthermore, we have immune and blood disorders that are specific to our community and yet our community are least likely to give blood and donate organs.”

The event was co-hosted by broadcaster Mike Shaft and award-winning vocalist and choir director Carla Jane, both below, with an opening speech from Manchester’s Mayor, Andy Burnham, who said that what makes Manchester great is the ability of the people to celebrate diversity, equality and solidarity.

ALL SMILES: From left, Jordan Lee, Makisa Gilkes, Yosha Gilkes and Akeim Mundell BEM

“This is something for Manchester to be proud of,” Burnham said.

“Congratulations to CAHN on your first year. You will always have my willing ear and my door will always be open to address the issues you deal with. There are very real health inequalities within the African Caribbean health services but we believe in cooperation and jointly we can work through all of these issues.”

Other speakers on the night were Viv Ahmun, director of the Aspire Education Group, and Akeim Mundell BEM, Pastoral Leader at Chorlton High School and Ambassador for Moss Side. In addition to performances from Jermain, comedian Judi Love and Jet Black Dancers, recognition awards were presented on the night to members of the community who have made contributions to the lives of black people. Categories included the Unsung Hero Award, presented by Gus John, and Leadership and Empowerment.

“The fundraising element of this event is also critically important,” added Faye. A raffle, with prizes such as custommade clothing, an Armani watch and beauty treatments helped to raise funds for CAHN as did an auction, encouraging guests to bid for a holiday in Barbados, boxing memorabilia, designer evening dresses and a whole raft of other high-end goods. This was all made possible by the many contributors to the event.

Yvonne James, Facilitator at Understanding Lupus and Fibromyalgia, attended the event along with Pauline Crooks. “We thoroughly enjoyed the night,” she said.

“Caribbean and African members of the community came together to celebrate not only what has passed and been successful, but also to strive to do more in the future, to unite and all come together as one.”

“We felt honoured to be a part of the CAHN event for we can only rise up and up,” she added.

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