Paywand arrived in the UK in 1999 as a political refugee from his native Kurdistan, Iraq. As a child he lost his father and witnessed many other relatives being killed. He was injured in a chemical weapon attack and in his teens he endured imprisonment and torture.
On arriving in Britain, his English was extremely limited, but he was determined to improve it. He studied English for Speakers of Other Languages and gained NVQ level 2 and 3 in Business Administration.
He went on to take a Foundation Degree in Management and Leadership, while also working with refugees and asylum seekers as a volunteer with Birmingham City Council. He is now a senior officer with the charity Trident Reach, and is a board member of the Birmingham Kurdish Association and a trustee of the Red Sun Organisation.
“Since being given political refugee status within the UK, I have started to realise my dream of helping others and furthering my knowledge and skills,” he says. “This has been a challenge, but one I have thoroughly enjoyed.”