24 November 2022

Dorcas Gwata, who works as a Psychiatric Liaison Nurse for CNWL at St Mary’s Hospital, has been shortlisted in the Best Nurse category of The Sun’s Who Cares Wins Awards.

This is in recognition of her work overseeing a special public health project, working with young people involved in gangs, knife-crime and exploitation.

She started her career aged 21 as a hospital cleaner, before becoming a healthcare assistant and then a mental health nurse.

Dorcas said: “Community engagement and collaborative working is incredibly important in achieving better health outcomes. I care deeply about the young people I look after, they are as vulnerable as they are resilient. Sometimes I bump into them in the market or street, they are always polite and cultured in their interactions with me - a side of them that society does not always see.”

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Pictures shows: Dorcas Gwata
Image credit: The Sun

In 2015, she was given a grant from the Florence Nightingale Foundation to travel to her home country of Zimbabwe to work on a HIV programme, helping patients become more engaged with mental health services.

She said: “When I got back I wanted to see how we could get our community more engaged with mental health. We applied those lessons to London, using a street clinic approach. I didn’t work in an office - I'd wear trainers and jeans and engage with people wherever they were - in McDonald’s, on street corners or in prison. 

One girl came from three generations who had never worked. There was a very strong history of criminality and drug-use. She took an overdose, and I helped her. It took a lot of work and she needed a lot of help. Now, she now works in the City. We broke the cycle. Her children, and her children’s children, will see the possibilities because their mother worked. It makes me really proud.”

Dorcas was nominated by her colleague Dr Maddalena Miele, CNWL's Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist, who said: "As soon as I met Dorcas, she struck me as someone who really thinks outside of the box. She understands the barrier that some people from ethnic minorities face when trying to access healthcare services and she has made it her mission to provide them with better psychiatric care.”

See more in this video

The winners will be announced at a ceremony screened on Channel 4 on Sunday 27 November.