London man wins trip to space, dedicates it to mental illness

Hussain Manawer making a speech

A 24-year-old from London who won a competition to go to space has dedicated his trip to people who have experienced mental illness.

Hussain Manawer will make the journey to the area between Earth's atmosphere and outer space in 2018.

"This spaceship, I want to dedicate this to every single person who has suffered from mental health," he said in his acceptance speech.

Hussain beat people from 90 countries to win the competition.

At the award ceremony in Bangkok, he paid tribute to "every young boy, girl, man, woman who sits in their bedroom crying and you don't know why, everyone who avoids mirrors because you don't like what you look like".

"I want to tell you, if you are suffering from mental health it is absolutely fine. Welcome to the club, there are seven billion of us."

Hussain also said he wanted to speak on behalf of "two billion sane Muslims" to tell the audience he was with the world against the war on terror.

"My name is Hussain and I am not a terrorist," he said.

I want to tell you, if you are suffering from mental health it is absolutely fine. Welcome to the club, there are seven billion of us
Hussain Manawer

Hussain, who lives in Ilford, says he first noticed the competition on Twitter. His entry video showed him talking about struggling with mental illness.

At the One Young World summit last week, he gave a spoken word performance about anxiety, depression and self-harm.

"Dear mum, I wasn't meant for this planet. You did everything you could so please don't panic. No-one likes me, so I might as well vanish," he said.

"See - I write stories. I write them on my arm. Only I can read them, but the doctor calls it self-harm.

"When I bleed he tells me to put on a plaster, but I'm depressed inside, there's no bandage for this internal disaster."

Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne, one of the judges, said Hussain's "raw talent and passion" helped him secure first place.

The competition was organised by Kruger Cowne, a talent agency, which arranged for Hussain's prize to be presented to him by Nasa astronaut Ron Garan.

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