Actionplus Foundation was founded by the Apostle Fred Osei Annin in 1997 in Southwark and registered it with the Charity Commission the same year. During that time, Lambeth, Southwark were then and even now the highest HIV prevalent communities in the whole of the UK. The incidence of HIV has always been high mostly within the black African communities because of ignorance. Stigma and prejudice had become barriers to HIV intervention during those years so a campaign to combat against these negative behaviours was very paramount at that time. Fred was moved to intervene in this situation when he saw that these unfortunate behaviours and attitude were being practised even in the church. Being led by the Holy Spirit, he took it upon himself to lead a campaign targeting the black African churches by interacting with Pastors to find a way to solve this problem so that the growing number of HIV infection in the BAME community will be prevented. The church plays a central role in the lives of many African Communities. These communities look towards Pastors and church elders for guidance and support but unfortunately at that time, the vast majority of pastors were ignorant about HIV due to the lack of knowledge about the disease.
The church is the rightful place to organise regular health education campaigns but because most pastors didn’t have any knowledge about facts related to HIV and AIDS it became very difficult for sexual health professionals to engage with the church community.
The alarming issue also was that a large number of people who were infected with HIV were also not aware of their status and had therefore put the entire church and the whole community at risk by living in fear of being stigmatised when their HIV status is revealed.
The church plays a central role in the lives of many African Communities. These communities look towards Pastors and church elders for guidance and support when challenges strike and life becomes uncertain but unfortunately, the vast majority of pastors then were ignorant about HIV that is why they close all doors to HIV intervention in the church. Therefore it was very expedient then that immediate action should be taken to solve the problem otherwise the message of “God is love” would have become absolutely irrelevant.
Therefore the main aim of Fred’s organisation Actionplus was to find a way of solving this unfortunate situation. First by training Pastors for them to be empowered to gain knowledge about HIV and other sexually transmitted Infections. Secondly so they could occasionally use the knowledge they have acquired in their preaching to demonstrate the love of God. One misleading fact also was that some of the Pastors did not see HIV as a medical issue and thought HIV was a curse from God because to them those who are HIV positive are those who lead promiscuous or immoral lifestyles and as a result, God has cursed them with HIV as punishment to their sinful behaviours. Others also believed HIV can be cured only through their powerful prayers and therefore forbid their members to seek medical help when they are tested positive but with the robust intervention of Actionplus’ “Take Action Now” model, breakthrough was achieved.
After successfully establishing the project here in the UK, Fred went back home to Ghana from the diaspora on a missionary trip in 2007 to establish the African branch of the Foundation as a way of giving back to his people and the country where he was born, This was where the idea of getting people tested in churches was first conceived and launched.
Fred successfully managed to lead Actionplus Foundation Ghana with this model in our campaign to help the Government to reduce the infection rate of HIV in the country which was then 3.6% in 2007 to 1.3% in 2013. Our branch in Ghana over the years has become a hub where we develop models to champion our crusade against stigma, prejudice, hatred and all issues related to HIV in the church.
In 2013 Fred managed to lead the Actionplus Foundation (UK) to launch and replicate Actionplus’ successful model “Take Action Now” here in the UK, at the Mountain Movers Chapel International church in London an occasion which attracted many HIV organisations and dignitaries from Europe. During the National HIV Testing Week in 2013, Actionplus Foundation became the first HIV organisation in the whole of UK to practically open an HIV testing centre in a church where HIV is seen as a taboo and a “no go zone”. This centre was opened at the Living Flames Baptist church in Walthamstow in the East of London. Actionplus Foundation partnered with Positive East organisation to give church members free access to confidential HIV test. This historic event has brought a big turnaround to the way HIV prevention work especially testing is organised here in the UK. During the National HIV Testing Week campaign in 2013, Actionplus again became the first organisation ever to open 4 HIV testing centres in the black African churches across London including Southwark, Lewisham, Haringey and Dagenham and Redbridge partnering with locally commissioned HIV organisations and the Public Health England to give church members the opportunity to have access to early free confidential HIV testing. These events were held same day and same time. The following week Actionplus Foundation also opened their first HIV testing centre at the Inspirational Charismatic Church (ICC).
This model by Actionplus Foundation has removed ignorance, stigma and fear in the church. It has also given Pastors and church members the empowerment they need to exercise their role as HIV advocates to champion the cause of HIV intervention in their various congregations. Pastors also are now in a stronger position to educate their congregations about HIV/AIDS through their preaching and sermons with love and compassion.
Many Pastors have now discovered the true meaning of their calling through our training programmes. The attitude of stigmatisation and discrimination have been removed and most of the people living with and those affected by HIV/AIDS in the churches they attend are happy and enjoying their lives to the full. Most of those who are positive are now able to freely disclose their status and share their experiences with those who haven’t gone for the test because of fear and stigma.
We promote condom use and other ways of stopping HIV infection through raising awareness around prevention campaigns such as conferences, outreach, workshops and others. We also open free confidential HIV testing centres in churches, market places, lorry stations and other community settings.
We know that HIV diagnosed early gives you more of an opportunity to manage the virus and prevent onward transmission.
We tackle HIV stigma through education
Both in the UK and IN Ghana, people living with HIV are living in poverty due to the disease we therefore organise training events to empower them to acquire gainful employment and also supply food items to those who cant afford them..
Both in the UK and in Ghana, we lead in HIV education including support and empowerment programmes. We work with partner organisations to change lives of people living with HIV/AIDS and those affected by HIV and have won many local, national and International awards for our successes.