Strategic internships for Zimbabweans
About the Zimbabwean Strategic Internship Scheme
The Zimbabwean Strategic Internship Scheme is a CITIZENS for Sanctuary project to assist in the reconstruction of Zimbabwe by increasing the skill levels and work experience of its citizens residing in the UK. The Scheme is led by Zimbabwean exiles and aims to provide strategic work placements and internships in the public, private and voluntary sectors to Zimbabweans who wish to play a part in rebuilding their country when it is safe to return.
Why is this Scheme needed?
There are approximately 11,000 Zimbabweans who have sought sanctuary in the UK. Many have been refused refugee status, but the government has agreed that they cannot be sent back at the moment. However, they are prevented from working and have little or no access to benefits.
Many of the Zimbabweans who fled to the UK brought skills with them, but the ban on working has left many of them deskilled and demoralised. Many of them want to return to Zimbabwe when it is safe to do so and help rebuild their country, but long periods of destitution and worklessness have made them less able to contribute to Zimbabwe’s eventual reconstruction than when they first arrived here.
In July 2008, Gordon Brown said he would look into the situation of destitute Zimbabweans in the UK, as of yet this has not happened. CITIZENS for Sanctuary is calling upon UK civil society to show solidarity by investing in Zimbabweans who wish to return and play their part in the reconstruction of Zimbabwe.
There is a need for this Scheme from the perspective of Zimbabweans in the UK who are desperate to improve their skills but are, in the main, prevented from doing so, and from the perspective of the new leadership in Zimbabwe, such as the leadership of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has called on the UK for such support.
How does the Scheme work?
The Scheme is currently being piloted in London, although there has been interest in adapting the scheme in other parts of the UK, and our unique model is easily applicable outside London.
The Scheme is run by a Local Co-ordination Team which will manage and develop the scheme within an area, such as London. This Team consists of several Zimbabwean volunteers and a British volunteer. The Team is run by a Zimbabwean Team Leader, who is supervised by the CITIZENS for Sanctuary Projects Organiser.
The Team is responsible for recruiting potential interns, finding appropriate and strategic internship opportunities, and monitoring and evaluating the success of the internships in their aim of providing skills and experience that will be useful when the intern decides to return to Zimbabwe.
CITIZENS for Sanctuary is keen to match the volunteer intern and their skills to the right placement. This will happen in line with criteria developed by an advisory group of development and employment experts, representatives of organizations offering internships, and Zimbabweans.
The nature of the internship will vary from institution to institution. Some may already have a competitive scheme running, which a Zimbabwean candidate can be entered for. Others may decide to interview from a selection of candidates. Other organisations may wish to simply meet the matched volunteer intern, before they commence.
In order for the volunteer internship to be meaningful, the Scheme suggests a minimum of 3 months commitment from the host organization and the Zimbabwean volunteer. This will not only enable the volunteer intern to develop their skills but also for the organisation to invest in them. This could include more responsibility or training.
Extra support and training may be required for some interns, his could include IT support, as many Zimbabweans would not have used the latest technology. Some may lack confidence, and therefore we like to place people with organisations that are able to offer people support and training.
The fact that the Scheme is led and run by Zimbabweans for Zimbabweans has many advantages. One advantage is that the Scheme will be able to develop relationships with key Ministers in Zimbabwe. We aim to develop a referral method which will refer candidates to the Minister of Labour, when it is safe for them to return home.
Progress so far
There has already been a huge response to the scheme, resulting in many internship posts ready to be filled, media coverage, and praise in Parliament. The internships opportunities offered are across a wide range of sectors and so it is essential that the right candidate is matched. CITIZENS for Sanctuary is also keen that the project reaches those who need it most
To date, we have had over 50 organisations offering internships, these are across all sectors and include some high profile names such as MPs, universities and national newspapers.
The Scheme has successfully placed 7 interns and it is now being promoted to the Zimbabwean community in order to find the right candidates for the internships offered. The Scheme aims to have 20 interns placed by the end of June 2008, with the graduation of the first cohort of interns coinciding with the official launch of the Scheme.
How can I help?
The Zimbabwe Strategic Internship Scheme is a civil society initiative by CITIZENS for Sanctuary – it receives no financial support from the government. The Scheme is therefore always grateful for support – please consider if you can support us in any of the following ways:
• Offer a strategic internship at your workplace or organisation;
• Pledge financial support to ensure the sustainability of the Scheme;
• Volunteer as part of a Local Co-ordination Team;
• Promote the Scheme to the public, the media and politicians.
For further information, please contact Carina Crawford-Rolt, Projects Organiser at CITIZENS for Sanctuary firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are Zimbabwean and want to apply for the scheme, please complete the application form available.
please click here to download the application form.