UK charity working in South Africa to transform the lives of children


Bishop Simeon Trust team

The Bishop Simeon Trust is a UK based charity working in partnership with local communities to transform the lives of vulnerable children in South Africa.

Our Work in South Africa

South Africa has come a long way since the terrible days of Apartheid. It was during this era that our work began in the 1980s as a response to the education crisis which threatened the possibility of an educated youth becoming the future leaders a free South Africa would need. With the great celebration with the arrival of the era of freedom and democracy came new challenges. As well as dealing with the legacy of Apartheid the nation was also rocked by the HIV/AIDS epidemic which continues to blight communities, deepening persistent poverty and suffering across the nation. 

Over the years the Bishop Simeon Trust has worked to adapt to the changing needs of the communities that we are commited to, whilst always maintaining a focus on the vision that set the foundations of our existence. We also maintain our commitment to the area where we were founded - this is the City of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality in Gauteng Province to the East of Johannesburg. 

Gauteng Province is the most populous province of South Africa. There are 13 million people in Gauteng, 25% of the population of South Africa, comprising 3.5 million children of which 1.3 million go hungry every day, 1 million live with only one parent, 400,000 live without their parents and 13,000 live in households led by other children. An estimated 1.4 million people are HIV+ and of the 250 new HIV infections each day 25% are cases of young women. 

Ekurhuleni has the second largest township in the region after Soweto - some 400,000 people live there. However, it lacks the same profile, attention and support as other areas. 

  • Population density is high - 7,000+ people per km2
  • Services are poor - one toilet for every six households
  • 35% of the population are under 19 years old
  • 33% of households are headed by single parents - mainly female
  • 20% of households have no income and live on less than £1 a day
  • 20% of children have lost both their parents

  • Children are left vulnerable in these circumstances and experience high rates of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, peer relationship difficulties, suicidal urges, delinquency and homelessness. These are children who are denied the possibility of reaching their full potential in life and the right to dignity for them and their families.    

    At the Bishop Simeon Trust we are passionate about what we do. We believe that people working together can overcome the problems they face in powerful ways. We don’t pretend that this is easy. We know that it’s not. But we do know that people can demonstrate incredible resourcefulness, innovation, compassion and dignity in the face of great challenges. Our work is about people speaking out and taking action. We start this by transforming the lives of children. Our work helps communities to make sure that children can be safe, healthy, access education, be aware of their rights and have the confidence to claim them. Our key support activities are as follows:

    • We support local communities to identify their own needs and the strategies to best respond to them.
    • We equip, educate and empower communities to support vulnerable children and young people to mitigate the impact of poverty and HIV/AIDS on their lives.
    • We support the development of youth led advocacy, assuring that the voices of children are heard and that they are supported in becoming the leaders of tomorrow.
    • We advocate for policy and practice change. We tackle the causes of poverty as well as dealing with the effects of it.

    It is through this work that we deal directly with the problems vulnerable children face in their lives, investing in a better future for them, whilst also working to inform those national policies and strategies that effect their lives. In this way we deal with both the symptoms and the causes, reaching beyond the area we can reach directly on our own. 

    Our Vision

    A South Africa where all people benefit equally from the fruits of democracy and where poverty and HIV/AIDS do not prevent people from achieving their full potential in life.

    Our Mission

    To ensure that vulnerable children, those affected by HIV/AIDS and marginalised people are enabled to achieve their potential, ensuring that poverty, lack of education, discrimination or circumstance does not exclude them from society.

    Our Values

    The following values are central to the way in which the Bishop Simeon Trust works.

    • RESPECT: we believe in compassion, recognising the value and rights of all those we work with.
    • INTEGRITY: we are transparent and accountable so we ensure that we have the trust of those we serve and those who support us.
    • SUSTAINABILITY: we work in a way that promotes independence and continuance of support beyond our interventions. 
    • COLLABORATION: we believe that working in partnership with those who share our vision and values builds on existing knowledge and achieves greater impact.
    • LEARNING: we believe that it is through the power of learning that we will improve the lives of those we serve and assure the efficacy and impact of our work.

    Our Accounts

    We pride ourselves on our transparency and accountability. Click here to view our accounts on the Charity Commission Website.

    Our History

    Bishop Simeon Trust

    Bishop Simeon Nkoane was the man who inspired the founding of the Bishop Simeon Trust – it is his vision for the future of South Africa that helped to ispire and develop the organisation that continues to pursue it.

    As a young Bishop in South Africa in the 1960’s Simeon fought the injustices of apartheid and bravely spoke out against the government and society. For many years he fought alongside his close friend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. 

    He was concerned about the future of South Africa given the number of young black people of South Africa who were missing out on education as a result of the policies of Apartheid.

    He wrote to a friend in the UK : "There is no doubt that an educated leadership will be crucial for South Africa in the future. The school crisis in the black townships is far more serious than many people realise."

    Simeon knew that the key to change within South Africa was through providing education to those who couldn’t access it.  He had a close friend in the South West of England that he shared his concerns with - our Founder, Judith Scott. It was in response to these concerns and her own passion for a free South Africa that Judith formed the Devon Churches Support Group for South Africa. By raising funds and encouraging gifts in kind, such as free educational places at schools and colleges, they enabled the first young black South Africans to fulfil Bishop Simeon’s hopes and gain the education they needed to become the young leaders that would be needed for a future democratic South Africa.

    As the students multiplied and were scattered over the UK, support groups were set up to care for them and involvement gradually spread further afield. After some years, a more structured approach was needed for the raising of funds and the monitoring of the way they were spent. It was at a meeting in London in 1988 with Bishop Simeon, Judith Scott and supporters, that the idea of the Trust was conceived. By this time Simeon was seriously ill and there was a sense of urgency about getting the project off the ground. Sadly Bishop Simeon died in 1989, but before his death it was possible to tell him that the Trust bearing his name had been properly and legally set up.

    It is important to note that in line with Bishop Simeon's vision the Trust specifically prohibits the promotion of religion or religious education and is for the benefit of all disadvantaged people in South Africa where the need is greatest. This is testament to his commitment to the communities he served and his own belief in the future of South Africa. 

    Our Partners

    Our Team

    The knowledge and wisdom of our local partners within South Africa and our funding partners here in the UK ensure that your money is spent wisely and effectively towards the aims and vision of the Trust; changing the course of peoples lives in South Africa for ever.

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    Our Team

    Our Team

    Bishop Simeon Trust is made up of a small number of employees in the UK and an experienced team of trustees and patrons.

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    How you can help?

    If you would like to support BSTrust  there are a number of ways to do so:

    Latest News

    1. Helping children through the pandemic - March 2020 eNewsletter Martin Keat 30-Mar-2020
    2. Building Sustainable Protection for Children - February 2020 eNewsletter Martin Keat 28-Feb-2020
    3. Annual Review 2020 Martin Keat 04-Feb-2020

    Read More

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