We were founded upon the conception of the common man, not as a means but an end, not as a cog in a vast machine but as an individual being of infinite worth, of vast undeveloped potentialities.

(Bedford Institute Association 71st Annual Report, 1937)  

In 1867 the Bedford Institute Association was born.  We transformed into Quaker Social Action in 1998.  We were named in memory of Peter Bedford (1780 - 1864) a Quaker, silk merchant, and pioneer philanthropist.

Over the 150 years of our work, much has changed:

  • the shape and structure of poverty within our evolving society
  • what we do, and how we do it

And yet some common threads remain:

  • putting people at the heart of what we do
  • doing more by working with others
  • being eminently practical and helping people make their money go further
  • being creative and taking risks
  • sharing our learning through training and campaigning

One thing has remained constant - a determination to live up to our name.  To be Quaker in values, social in concern and absolutely action oriented. 

If Peter Bedford were alive today we think he would be proud our humble yet impactful organisation still survives.   An achievement undoubtedly, but our celebration is muted given that poverty still blights people's lives today. 

We will celebrate when the need for Quaker Social Action no longer exists.

One hundred and fifty is a fine old age.  We would like to honour the work of all of the people who have given their time to QSA, those who have volunteered and those who have worked for our charity too.

It's time to mark, with deep appreciation, those whose donations have supported us, as we have worked, day in day out for 150 years towards a more just and equal society.  

We hope its day shall come.

To find out more about our work today and the 150 years of experience behind it, sign up for our e-briefing.