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History of the Trust

Since its foundation the Barrow Cadbury Trust has been driven by a social change and social justice agenda derived from its Quaker roots.

About the founders

Barrow Cadbury was the grandson of John Cadbury, the founder of the family-run Cadbury chocolate business in Birmingham. Barrow worked at the Cadbury’s business for almost 50 years, succeeding his uncle George as Chairman in 1918. He founded the Barrow Cadbury Trust in 1920 with his wife Geraldine, although they were already active and generous donors.

Barrow and Geraldine used their wealth to tackle profound social ills, including juvenile crime and urban poverty. Geraldine used to run welfare surgeries in her living room for what we would today call street workers. Standing apart from other philanthropists, rejecting the term itself and the patronage it implied, Barrow and Geraldine were influential social reformers.

Watch this animation to find out how Barrow Cadbury Trust evolved

Origins of our endowment

In July 2020, in the context of inequalities accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, increased public scrutiny of the origins of philanthropic capital, Black Lives Matter protests, and George Floyd’s murder, our Chair, Erica Cadbury wrote a blog about the need to be transparent about the origins of the Trust’s endowment.  The Barrow Cadbury Trust board and the Executive Team published a public apology  as our research revealed a troubling and complex history of enslavement of Angolan people in Sao Tome and Principe.  Find out more about the history in this document.