Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund

The Bursaries Fund for Human Rights Defenders

To help professionals in exile convert their qualifications to UK standards to be able to resume their interrupted careers after suffering persecution in their home countries due to their courageous stance to uphold human rights.

history Campaign has now closed

It ran from 12:00 PM, 3 December 2019 to 12:00 PM, 10 December 2019

Registered Charity in England and Wales (213766)

Check mark Match funded

Campaign target


Amount raised




Championed by Jane Thurnell-Read


  • Education/Training/EmploymentEducation/Training/Employment
  • Human Rights/AdvocacyHuman Rights/Advocacy
  • Poverty Alleviation/ReliefPoverty Alleviation/Relief


  • Minority GroupsMinority Groups
  • Refugees/Asylum SeekersRefugees/Asylum Seekers
  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)


United Kingdom


Many prisoners of conscience in exile are highly qualified professionals who are not able to access employment in the UK because their qualifications are not recognised. Victoria from Zimbabwe is one example. She was forced to claim asylum in the UK after she organised political meetings on behalf of an opposition party. Back home she was a teacher, but her qualifications weren’t recognised in the UK and she was forced to take a low-paid zero-hours job as a care worker.


Our bursary scheme helps prisoners of conscience requalify by providing them with grants to pay for education at all levels, which in turn helps them find meaningful employment. We also offer an Employability Panel to provide specialist career advice. Victoria used a bursary to study a Masters in Public Health and now works as a nurse. She says: “Without Prisoners of Conscience I wouldn’t have managed as I have my three boys to take care of. If it were not for you, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”

  • “The Prisoners of Conscience bursary transformed my life entirely by helping me to study through which I am employed today and can support my family. It changed my life in a totally dark and uncertain period in UK. I will never forget.”

    — Kevin, a journalist from Cameroon

  • “Prisoners of Conscience is a positive and golden force in action today. They help to enrich people's lives and transform communities by enabling access to education.”

    — Aaran, a teacher from Iran

  • “Prisoners of Conscience is the catalyst of change in my life indeed, a 360-degree change.”

    — Aneesa, political activist from Pakistan

  • Your bursary grantees are quite remarkable. To have experienced so much trauma but still be determined to study and make a positive contribution to the world demonstrates their strength of character. I am happy to support this important work.

    — Thomas, a bursary donor

  • "If it were not for you, I would not be who I am today. I'm a mother of three boys. Life would have been incredibly tough without your support. You enabled me to focus on studies and to forget about my having been banished from my country"

    — Victoria, a bursary grantee from Zimbabwe