John Smith Trust launches new 2024 Fellowship programme for Belarusians in exile

Apply now for our ‘Leaders in Exile: Future of Belarus’ Fellowship’ to support your work towards a free and peaceful society.

Our bespoke Fellowship programme is for Belarusian leaders and changemakers who are living in exile and working to achieve a fairer, more sustainable and inclusive society. It brings together exceptional Belarusian professionals from different sectors and follows our successful pilot programme in 2023.

Our hybrid programme will run from October 2024 until the end of February 2025. It comprises a series of online sessions followed by a nine-day residential programme in the UK from 10 to 19 January. This includes leadership training, workshops, visits to public institutions, policy institutes and NGOs, and the opportunity meet experts in your field.

If you’re working in civil society, journalism, politics, social enterprise, education or business, we encourage you to apply. To be successful, you must share our values of respect, tolerance and openness as well as our commitment to rules-based and people-centred governance.

New ideas and insights

Ray Svitla, founder of, developed his Belarus State Network plan in response to our 2023 pilot programme. He says: “Previously, I had global ideas. The programme helped me look differently at the need for new forms of governance for the Belarusian diaspora. My learning insights included a better understanding of politics and NGOs. I also learned to better read people and their motivations.”

He adds: “It was an intense experience – five days with a 12-hour schedule – a real sprint, but rich in practical learning. Would I do this experience again? YES!”

Professional growth

Aliaksandr Hancharonak is the Head of Ideas Bank Platform, a platform for creating, discussing and promoting reforms and development projects in Belarus. He is also the Founder of PLACOÜKA, a media project aimed at Belarusian youth.

Reflecting on the programme, he says: “It helped to rethink many of my established routines and helped me to grow as a professional in my field. I became much more confident in many aspects and understood better my strong features and those which require improvement.”

Unique opportunity for Belarusians

Palina Brodik, is a coordinator of the Free Belarus Centre and a member of the Coordination Council of Belarus. She says: “The John Smith Trust fellowship programme was a great journey through academic theories, best historical practices, cutting-edge political debate, professional coaching, and leadership skills enhancement. This relatively short programme gave me a tremendous personal boost and, I am convinced, will influence the development of my career.”

Palina found our session on system thinking  “thought-provoking.” She says, “It was precious to have a session with a professor from Oxford who not only gave us theoretical basics but also made it more applicable to our action plans. The session helped twist my way of thinking from a negative to a positive perspective.”

She adds: “I am now a strong advocate and a loyal fellow who will recommend to all my dear friends and colleagues to apply for the programme. It is hard to overestimate how important it is to have such unique educational and professional development opportunities for Belarusians in exile.” To apply click below.

Photo by Ben Dance / FCDO