After last year’s successful pilot programme, the John Smith Trust is running a bespoke Fellowship Programme for Belarusian leaders and change-makers living in exile in 2024-5. The Leaders in Exile: ‘Future of Belarus’ Fellowship is for exceptional professionals living in exile and working towards a free and peaceful future for their country. 

This Fellowship supports leaders with passion and purpose to achieve their vision for fairer, more sustainable and inclusive societies. It brings together exceptional Belarusian professionals from different sectors, including civil society, journalism, politics, social enterprise, education and business, who are working to improve governance, justice and sustainability in their society and beyond. 

The hybrid programme is a chance for Fellows to gain insights into the values, ways of working, and challenges faced by people and institutions in the UK, and to connect with counterparts and learn from each other’s work. The programme is comprised of a series of online workshops followed by a week-long residential programme in the UK. Each Fellow will participate in a core programme of group workshops and visits and have an individually-tailored programme of meetings related to their Action Plan. After completing the programme, Fellows will join the collaborative community of John Smith Fellows and will have the opportunity to participate in network activities. All our programmes are rooted in the belief that the way to find sustainable solutions is to work together, listening and learning from each other.  

Key information

Below are the key details about the programme format and your eligibility to take part. You can find further information, including regarding ‘Action Plans’, on our FAQs page. 

Dates and format

  • The hybrid programme will run from October 2024 until the end of February 2025. Please note that the dates may be subject to change. Attendance of all sessions (online and in-person) is compulsory.  
  • From October 2024 to February 2025, Fellows will participate in the online programme. 
  • Fellows will come to the UK from Friday 10th January to Sunday 19th January for their residential programme, comprised of leadership training, group sessions and workshops as well as visits to public institutions, policy institutes, and NGOs and meet with experts across our thematic fields.  
  • Alongside group activities, each Fellow will have a tailored set of meetings with UK counterparts to enhance their Action Plan. 
  • Fellows will also have the chance to participate in a network-wide mentoring/peer coaching scheme upon completion of their residential programme. 


The Trust selects exceptional and influential future leaders who are already making an impact in one or more of the following areas 1) governance and justice, 2) climate and sustainability and 3) equality, diversity, and inclusion. 

Fellows can work in any sector, e.g., politics, non-profit sector (civil society, NGOs, think tanks, research/education institutions, media) or private sector (legal professions, business/social business, finance). 

To apply you must:  

  • be a citizen of Belarus living outside of their country.
  • be aged 25-35. 
  • be in permanent employment. 
  • speak and write fluent English (preferably having already studied or worked in English). 
  • demonstrate a commitment to the John Smith Trust’s shared values of tolerance, respect and openness towards one another at all times. Please see our Fellows’ Charter for more detail on what we expect from Fellows. The Trust strongly condemns Russia’s unlawful act of aggression on Ukraine and supports the people of Ukraine who are defending their freedom. Fellows who take part in our programmes are expected to accept this position. Please see our statement on the war on Ukraine for more detail. 
  • demonstrate your potential as a leader in your chosen professional field, committed to building a fairer, more sustainable, and inclusive society in Belarus.  
  • demonstrate a clear professional interest in one or more of these areas, and a broad interest in all three: climate and sustainability, governance and justice, and equality, diversity and inclusion. 
  • propose an ‘Action Plan’ addressing a challenge in policy or practice in your field of expertise aimed at contributing to the development of a free and peaceful future for Belarus, which you intend to implement after the programme, and which will be informed by your experience in the UK. 
  • be prepared to make a substantial commitment if selected as a Fellow: to dedicate time and effort into making the most of the hybrid programme and participating actively in the Fellow’s online and in-person community in the long term. 

Please note that the candidates selected are those whom the Trust feels will make the most significant long-term positive impact on their society’s development and not the development of their own careers. 

Application process

The application process consists of an online application form, an online interview for those who are shortlisted, and a final stage face-to-face interview.  

Applications will close on Sunday 23rd June 23:59 BST. We reserve the right to close applications early if we receive a high number of applications. Therefore you are advised to submit your application as early as possible. 

Apply now