An alumnus of Sidney Sussex College has donated £1 million to support student mental health and wellbeing at the College and across the wider collegiate university.

Prakash Melwani, who matriculated in 1977 to read Economics at Sidney and is currently a Cambridge in America Board member, and his wife Anjali, were motivated by their concern at the increased pressure facing young people.

Richard Penty, Master of Sidney Sussex, said: “This marvellous gift from Prakash and Anjali Melwani will have a deep and transformational impact on the wellbeing of current and future members of the College.”

The gift will fund a review of Sidney’s pastoral care system under a new Head of Student Wellbeing, Dr Thérèse Allan, who will take up her post in September 2021.

This will include trialling of “innovative” programs, encouraging and leading student-led activities, and improving existing practices.

Penty continued: “Even before the pandemic began, it was clear to us in Sidney that we needed to do more to improve the mental health and wellbeing of our students and the appointment of Thérèse Allan and the programme she will develop will allow us to achieve this. None of this would have been possible without the wonderful generosity shown by the Melwanis.”

The Pastoral care team at Sidney will work with the University’s Head of Student Wellbeing, Natalie Acton, so that the wider collegiate University benefits.

The University of Cambridge Head of Student Wellbeing, Natalie Acton, added: “Across the collegiate University, there is significant momentum behind a vision to be not only a place of excellent learning opportunity, but a place where stigma surrounding mental health is broken and where effective means of promoting and increasing wellbeing are proven. I am in awe of this donation, the shared vision of the donors towards these aims, and their eagerness to take action for Cambridge and for wider society.”