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Inspirational Hughes Hall student recognised as ‘outstanding young hero’

Tanatswa Chikaura, 23, from Zimbabwe, has been awarded a prestigious Diana Award 2023, for her transformational mental health advocacy work in Africa, epitomised by her founding of the Ndinewe Foundation which is changing the lives of people across the region.

Tanatswa is finishing an MPhil in Neuroscience at Hughes Hall before going on to study for a PhD in Psychiatry, more specifically, the prevalence, diagnosis, and real-world outcomes of anxiety disorders in children and young people with autism spectrum condition.

Tanatswa was honoured for her mental health work with Ndinewe Foundation. A youth led mental health organisation founded with the vision of promoting good mental health and well-being in Zimbabwean communities.

Tanatswa spoke to us about her achievement: “I have been fortunate enough to work closely with individuals and communities facing mental health challenges. By using active listening and empathy, I have created an environment of trust and respect, where open dialogue can take place and diverse perspectives are valued. I feel honoured that my work has been recognised through the 2023 Diana Award. This award has given me even more motivation to promote mental health care, not only in Zimbabwe but globally.”

“My ultimate goal is to see tailored mental health care that addresses the specific needs of various communities and populations.”

Dr Tori McKee, Hughes Hall Senior Tutor, said: “Tanatswa is an inspirational young leader, and we are lucky to have her as a student here at Hughes Hall. She has made a real difference to the lives of individuals in her home country and is also making a significant impact through her academic work here in Cambridge.  I am so pleased to see her receive this well-deserved recognition of her work.”

Before completing her psychology undergraduate degree, Tanatswa volunteered in the wider mental health arena in her home country, Zimbabwe, earning recognition in the field. She founded the ‘Ndinewe Foundation’, providing mental health education to marginalised urban areas.

Tanatswa’s work in Zimbabwe reached over 7,200 people through social media, while more than 200 young people have received support and workshops.

Tanatswa’s advocacy has led to collaborations with the Ministry of Youth, the police, and professional psychologists. She also influenced national policies, contributing particularly to the new National Sexual Harassment Policy in Zimbabwe. Tanatswa’s journey has motivated her peers as well as providing specific support to individuals, and she is recognised as a role model for many young people through her determination and pursuit of their goals.

This year’s Diana Award recipients represent inspirational young people from across the UK and around the world. These exceptional people have demonstrated their ability to inspire and mobilise new generations to serve their communities and create long-lasting change on a global scale.

Whilst at Cambridge, Tanatswa continues to help shape the development of wellbeing and mental health research including as a committee member of Building Bridges in Medical Science, a society which brings together biomedical researchers who want to make a difference around the world through their work. She also shares her research with our college community through student-led academic events such as our Pending Puzzles panel discussion ‘Who is responsible for my mental health’, and through an academic seminar to mark Black History Month.

Tessy Ojo CBE, CEO of The Diana Award, said: “We warmly congratulate our new Diana Award recipients from the UK and across the world who are changemakers for their generation. These young people demonstrate that young people have the power to change the world; a belief also held by Diana Princess of Wales. We know by receiving this honour they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their own changemaking journey.”

You can watch Tanatswa and other recipients speaking at the virtual awards ceremony.

About The Diana Award

The charity fosters, develops and inspires positive change in the lives of young people through four key programmes which include a mentoring programme for young people at risk, a youth-led anti-bullying ambassadors campaign, a collaborative Changemakers programme that aims to reimagine mental health support for young people from racialised communities and a prestigious award which publicly recognises young changemakers – The Diana Award.