Grantee: 2012

Funded: Tuition fees and IT equipment

Despite working as a high school teacher for more than a decade and as a lecturer at Zimbabwe Open University for three years, Michael spent six years unable to work in the UK while he awaited a decision on his asylum claim. 

As a teacher and academic supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe, Michael was a target for the authorities.  He received a number of violent threats, was followed by intelligence operatives, and was detained for a week in an unknown location.  Despite this he decided to take a more senior secretarial and publicity role in the MDC management.  The threats continued and in 2002, after a tip-off from his neighbours that his life was in danger, he fled to South Africa, then the UK, leaving his family and possessions behind in Zimbabwe.

Separated from his family and unable to work, Michael became involved in a number of voluntary projects related to disadvantaged youth and ethnic minorities in Manchester.  In 2004 he became a Community Research Assistant in the Department of Urban Housing at the University of Salford and in 2005 volunteered in similar role with Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council, interviewing and researching Black Minority Ethnic communities to develop and deliver inclusive services for local people.  He also became a Children’s Football Coach with the Manchester Football Association and a Youth Counsellor for Camp America.  He was awarded a coMMuni gold medal award in recognition of his contribution to society shortly after receiving his refugee status.

Michael first contacted CARA while studying Education at Manchester Metropolitan University. The fees for his PGDip had been covered by the University but cut-backs prevented them from supporting his progression to an MA.  He applied for £1,000 so that he could complete his dissertation, which focused on rehabilitation structures in Manchester prisons.  Michael has now passed the MA and graduated in the spring of 2013.

Alongside his postgraduate study, Michael registered with a teaching agency to work as a supply teacher and GCSE examiner in Maths and ICT to build up valuable UK experience.  He now works as a Specialist Production Instructor at HM Prison Stafford, where he will be providing offenders with vocational skills to increase their likelihood of finding employment after release, and lectures in Commerce, Innovations and Skills at the City of Bristol College.