Meet your governor: Nyarai Humba

Nyarai Humba stood to become a governor for Oxford Health with a clear goal in mind: to make sure that carers’ voice is heard at every level of the Trust.

Meet your governor: Nyarai Humba

“My son got ill four years ago, and I have been his carer, trying to navigate the system. That’s when I realised that I need to do more from the inside [of the NHS]. That motivated me to stand as a candidate,” she says.

Her primary goal is to improve the way the Triangle of Care is implemented in the Trust. The Triangle of Care is a national initiative adopted by Oxford Health and implies a therapeutic alliance between service users, staff and carers.

When all three parties work together, they create the triangle of care most likely to optimise safety, opportunity and recovery for the service user and be most helpful for the carer.

But Nyarai has felt that there’s disparity between what is being said and what is being done.

“In practice, as a carer, I didn’t feel that we carers are being listened. Professionals are experts on the diagnosis, the illness and medication, but they do not know us as people. They do not know my son. We are experts on our bodies and our lives and should be valued as such. My experience was that it was very difficult for me to be heard.”

To her, person-centred care and the Triangle of Care are intricately linked.

“If you are truly doing person-centred care, you need provide care that is tailored to that person – who you don’t know. So, it is imperative to listen, be curious, find out more about that person. Then you can tailor care to them, instead of the one size fits all that professionals seem to prefer because it easy – but it is ineffective and expensive in the long run”

However, Nyarai also has experience of when the Triangle of Care does work as a true partnership.

“My son is much improved and now back at home. The new consultant did listen to me and my son. She would say to me, what do you think about this? What is your feeling? Where do you think he is improving, or not?

“I made some suggestions. I said: what if I start coming once a week and cook him some food from home? And she said, yeah, you can come and do that. My son and I met up in a beautiful cosy garden used by patients. I went every Sunday. It really helped my son to pull through.

“This consultant was listening; she was caring and allowed me to have a voice. So, I’ve seen it working; it can be done. It just has to be consistent so that every patient is getting it all the time,” Nyarai says.

Nyarai has a formidable track record in making things happen. By training she is a registered nurse and worked in Stevenage and London until she had her children. She wasn’t able to arrange childcare in order to do shift work, so she re-trained as a teacher. This led her to become a student again.

“I was teaching in London and one of my friends asked if I knew how to write a research proposal, or if there was anyone in our community who did, and we realised there wasn’t. One day I was in the staff room reading the Guardian and there was an advert saying Oxford University is offering scholarships. I thought, I don’t know how to do a proposal, but after failing I can pick up the phone and ask them how I should have written it. The main point of me applying was to learn how to do it. But you can imagine my shock when I was accepted! I was dumbfounded. I had the knowledge inside of me all along and did not know it. That’s how I ended up in Oxford.”

Nyarai completed a master’s degree in Research Methodologies, specialising in institutional racism in education.

“My research focused on black female teachers because at the time there weren’t many black male teachers,” Nyarai tells.

“I wanted to find out what they bring to teaching; why they became teachers. They told me stories about their own primary and secondary education in this country and the racism they had faced. That basically motivated them to become teachers: to be there for the black children, to do things differently,” Nyarai says.

“When people talk about diversity in this country – or most countries – they talk about diversity of skin colours. My research told me that what had been required from the black teachers was to be just replicas of white women. But there’s no point just having me, a black woman, if I’m thinking and acting and doing the same things as a white person. What is the point of me being there? No one is bringing anything new.”

This research background will inform Nyarai’s other mission as a governor.

“People give more if they can be themselves; you have to be yourself in order to add value.”

Since moving to Oxford in 1995 Nyarai has been very active in the community, supporting many community groups and training volunteers.

“I sort of stopped when my son was ill and I was looking after him,” she says.

“But now I am coming back to the community as a governor. I’m looking forward to learning more about my role so I can do it better and I really want to add value to Oxford Health.

“I love the NHS. I find it the most civilized thing in the world. I don’t think when people are sick, they should be worried about money. That’s why we have the NHS. We don’t have to worry about money, we can go and get treatment. It’s a very special thing and I want to make it better.”

In her free time Nyarai loves gardening, growing her own vegetables and cooking. She has also registered a Community Interest Company called Ubuntu Wellness and Complex Mental Health CIC.

You can contact Nyarai and all your governors by emailing

Become of member of Oxford Health

As a member you can help shape your local service and the future of Oxford Health. Membership is free and anyone aged at least 12, living and England and Wales, is welcome to join. You have no obligations as a member but there are lots of ways to get involved, including events to which you’ll get invitations straight to your inbox.

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Published: 18 August 2021