About | Our History

Our history is rooted in resistance to the brutality of Apartheid.

We are inspired by the late Bishop Simeon Nkoane and his vision of a South Africa where young people were protected and equipped to lead.

From being 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 that supported it, for many years he fought alongside his close friend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. He was concerned about the number of young black people who were denied education as a result of the policies of Apartheid. In the 1980s he spoke passionately about this:

“People with a sense of vocation and commitment come forward to lead their own people…youth need guidance and encouragement to dedicate themselves to serve their community…in peaceful efforts for the resolution of the present problems and for securing a genuine future and a just society.”

Bishop Simeon Nkoane, 2nd Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Lecture, Westminster Abbey (1987)

Simeon knew that the key to change within South Africa was through helping children to reach their potential, responding to the greatest need regardless of faith. At that time access to education was restricted by the government, so he sought support from his close friend in England, our founder Judith Scott.  

Judith shared his concerns and passion for a free South Africa, forming the Devon Churches Support Group for South Africa, raising funds and gifts in kind so that young black South Africans could access schools and colleges in the UK. This helped them to gain the education that would allow them to become the future leaders that a democratic South Africa would need, fulfilling Bishop Simeon’s hopes. 

Sadly, Bishop Simeon passed away in 1989 without seeing South Africa freed from Apartheid, but not before he was advised of the founding of the Bishop Simeon Trust in his name, for children of all faiths and none. More than 30 years later the Trust continues to pursue his vision of a South Africa where young people can lead and build a better future for themselves and their communities – a vision which remains so very relevant.