Barnwood Trust, funding origins, and racial justice

A statement from our Trustees

Barnwood Trust is an independent charitable foundation. Our funds are used to benefit disabled people and people with mental health challenges in Gloucestershire. The origins of the Trust go back nearly 230 years.

In 2020, George Floyd was murdered and the Black Lives Matter movement re-erupted. We had to look at the origins of the Trust’s funds; in light of British history, it was likely there would be historical links with slavery and the slave trade. Then we needed to think critically about what this means for the work that we do, how we do it, and the next steps we take in addressing racial inequality. This is both in the way that we think – as individuals, as an organisation, and as a community – and in the way that we connect with individuals and groups.


History of the Trust’s funds

Our research team has investigated the history of the original donors to the Trust. We have found many links between the origins of the Trust’s funds and the proceeds of slavery.

The funds that were raised from the donors of the time were used to buy farmland in Barnwood, Gloucester, to create Barnwood House Hospital in 1855. This land was sold off for residential and commercial development in the 1970s and 1980s. Since then, the funds have been invested in stocks, shares, and property. This now generates the income that the Trust uses to provide its funding and to do its work.

We have written up what we have found out about the Trust’s links with slavery which can be read in a summary here, or a full report here.


Racial inequality

The Trust’s links with the proceeds of slavery and colonialism are deeply uncomfortable. We acknowledge that the Trust has received funds through a society and way of life that has oppressed people of colour over centuries. This has led to inequality and disadvantage in every respect: poorer physical and mental health, poorer educational, employment and life opportunities, and in turn poorer financial security.

We take seriously the responsibility to use our resources and position to do what we can to diminish the huge impact of race and racism on mental health and disability. Gloucestershire is a predominately white place which has a significant impact on how we all understand and experience diversity. So, we need to challenge racism and its impacts in ways that are relevant and relate to the experiences of people of colour here, in Gloucestershire.


Becoming anti-racist

Our statement on anti-racism outlines the ways in which Barnwood resources will be used to develop our anti-racist agenda, how we situate ourselves as an organisation in relation to this work, and what it could mean to be an anti-racist organisation in the context of Gloucestershire.

We readily await responses to this statement, and we welcome them; we very much want to hear from you. Please use this as an invitation for dialogue with us about race, racism, and the experiences of people of colour in our county, as they relate to mental health challenges and disability.


Get in touch

Please get in touch with our Chief Executive Officer, Sally Byng. You can contact her by email, or by phone 01242 539935.

Alternatively, book a time to talk to Sally using Calendly here


To watch a BSL video of this statement please click here.