Meet the winner -Natasha Godsiff
I am delighted and humbled to have been selected as a winner for the Vice Chancellor’s Social Impact Awards 2020–21! It is inspiring to see dedicated students across the university being celebrated for their commitment to social impact. I firmly believe that young people possess the creativity, energy and drive to create meaningful change in their local and global communities.
I am currently engaged in a variety of projects across sectors, complementing my commitment to human rights, criminal justice, women’s empowerment, access to education, and environmental causes. This year, I have served on the Pro Bono team of the Cambridge University Law Society leading a number of legal pro bono projects. These include founding the Amicus Missouri Project at Cambridge for students to research the disproportionate application of the death penalty in the US, partnering with Citizens Advice in Cambridge, hosting an Access to Justice Foundation fundraiser, and working with the International Law Book Facility to ship legal textbooks to institutions in need in Ethiopia. We are also excited to have announced the inaugural Cambridge Pro Bono Awards to celebrate the exceptional legal pro bono work of students! Our work has been celebrated by the LawWorks and the Attorney General who have shortlisted the Pro Bono team for the Access to Justice Foundation Award, and I have personally been shortlisted for Best Contribution by an Individual Student.
Following my attendance at the 10th University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Kuala Lumpur in August 2019, I was selected amongst thousands of delegates to work with Humanitarian Affairs Asia (HA). HA aims to empower young people to initiate their own social action projects to tackle the world’s most pressing issues. I have since represented HA at numerous virtual UN conferences, including the UN Global Compact 20th Anniversary Leaders’ Summit 2020, UN 8th Geneva Peace Talks 2020, and UN 9th Virtual Forum on Business & Human Rights 2020.
Additionally, I am currently acting as Chairperson for the Youth Steering Committee for HA’s inaugural Green Summit, to be held at the United Nations in Bangkok, December 2022. The Youth Steering Committee comprises of 15 young leaders from around the world who will lead the recruitment, promotion and execution of the Green Summit. The Summit will feature four intensive days where attendees will learn from world-leading experts in sustainable development, engage in green workshops, and participate in a day of sustainable activities around Thailand, from mangrove-planting to ocean conservationism projects. We are working hard to engage with young people from around the world to raise awareness of environmental issues, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the increasing urgency of the climate threat.
Following a teaching placement in August 2018, I am particularly dedicated to improving the lives of marginalised communities in Nepal. I was devastated to learn that the schools had “libraries” but no books. Leading the Cambridge University HELP Nepal Society, I was proud to found a Book Campaign which sent 2,000 children’s books to rural schools in Nepal- despite facing several difficulties in obtaining funding and importation taxes upon arrival. We are now seeking avenues to establish this as an annual project. In addition, I am working with my incredible friend and colleague, Emi Ainscough, to establish a new charity aiming to raise awareness of caste discrimination and gender inequalities prevalent in Nepal through experiences of Nepali people living in the UK. I intend to act as legal trustee for the charity upon its foundation.
Furthermore, I volunteer with my local Citizens Advice in Blackpool. In 2017, I began volunteering as a face-to-face adviser advising clients on a range of issues, including debt, benefits, employment, housing, family and immigration. To adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic, I have been providing remote email advice to citizens who face particular challenges during this unprecedented period.
Beyond this, I have also been actively working with Project Access to promote access to Oxbridge for state-school students, with Afrinspire to support community initiatives in development and poverty reduction in East Africa, and with Amnesty International to support their campaigns.
I am so honoured to have received this award which gives me a boost of confidence to take my social action projects further. I believe that it is incredibly important for students to engage with their local community and take steps, however small, to make a meaningful impact. Given the right tools and the platform, young people possess an incredible power to make a difference.