Feed the Minds

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Feed the Minds is an ecumenical Christian international development charity that supports the most marginalised individuals and communities around the world.[1] Its vision is "A world in which all people everywhere have the opportunity to live life in all its fullness", and it works towards this vision through its Education for Change programme and Overseas Book Service.

In 2011/12 Feed the Minds changed the lives of 100,000 people through its Education for Change programme, and supported churches in development by sending more than 3,000 quality used books to 126 theological colleges.[2]

Feed the Minds works specifically with hard-to-reach groups who are frequently overlooked by others, particularly those who have reduced access to education because they are female, disabled, live in remote areas or are extremely poor.

They are a Christian charity but support people regardless of faith, gender, age, sexual orientation or ability.


Feed the Minds began in 1964 as a £1 million appeal launched by the then Archbishop of York, Donald Coggan. With an emphasis on literacy, the appeal aimed to provide books and enhance adult education in developing countries.

The appeal enjoyed high-profile and widespread support, and its launch at St James’s Palace was attended by the Prime Minister[who?] and the Queen Mother. Within two years, there were 235 Feed the Minds committees across the country. Soon afterwards, Feed the Minds became a registered charity.

Almost 50 years later, Feed the Minds counts on the support of local groups and prominent individuals. They still distribute books in the Global South but significantly also run education programmes in partnership with local grassroots organisations (what they call the Education for Change programme).


Each Education for Change project is different, depending on local circumstances. What unites them is the focus on adult literacy skills and partnership working (with community-based organisations to empower marginalised people).

Every project covers one or more types of practical education:

  • Vocational skills – to increase people’s living standards and independence.
  • Health education – to improve people’s quality of life and ability to support themselves.
  • Civic education – to help people access their rights and understand their responsibilities.
  • Peacebuilding – to promote understanding between different groups, and reduce prejudice and conflict.
  • Practical theological education – to equip ministers to meet community development needs.

The Overseas Book Service (OBS) offers quality used theology books to theological and Christian colleges in the developing world. Books are donated, by individuals and churches in the UK, and are housed centrally in a warehouse in Bradford. Each book is then listed in the OBS catalogue, which is published twice a year, and colleges can select the titles which are right for them. Last year Feed the Minds supported 126 colleges through the service, most of which are located in Africa, Asia and Latin America.


The Lunches for Life campaign, launched in 2010, invites followers to hold food based fundraising events. The campaign runs in September to coincide with International Literacy Day (on 8 September).[3] So far, it has raised more than £4,000 which has contributed to running projects on the Education for Change program.[4]

Organisational values[edit]

The organisations values are:[5]

  • Partnership :

Requiring Feed the Minds to work in partnership rather than alone with an aim to achieve genuine exchange of resources and support.

  • Creativity:

Committed to encouraging indigenous creativity and local writing. Projects should be designed by the communities they are intended to serve and should reflect understanding of and respect for the rich diversity of cultures worldwide.

  • Integrity:

Committed to improving efficiency. Feed the Minds strives to be trustworthy and honest in their operations and decision-making.

  • Diversity: Feed the Minds works with partners of all faiths and none, and strives to support a wide range of projects in different countries.

Organisational Approach[edit]

Literacy has been at the heart of the work of Feed the Minds throughout its history and is also acknowledged in the Millennium Development Goals as an essential aspect of the commitment to Education For All.[6]

Feed the Minds does not promote any one approach to literacy, however, they favour participatory approaches to teaching whereby learners are actively involved in the learning process and are therefore encouraged to influence the topics to discuss, read and write about.


In 2011, in partnership with the Population Council in Kenya, Feed the Minds conducted some research into Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Kenya. The research looked at how an Alternative Rite of Passage, which involves education and a celebration but no cutting, could protect young girls at the same time as protecting cultural traditions.[7]

In 2011 "Storytelling: A tool for promoting peace and literacy" was produced to support a project called Trauma Healing Through Storytelling, Reading and Writing, funded by Feed the Minds in partnership with the Peacebuilding, Healing and Reconciliation Programme (PHARP) and the Sudan Evangelical Mission (SEM). Feed the Minds believe storytelling is a particularly powerful literacy and empowerment tool.[8]

Volunteering and Regional Groups[edit]

Feed the Minds has a network of six regional groups in England.[9] They organise social and fundraising events across the British Isles,[10] including book fairs, concerts, coffee mornings and cream teas.

In 2011/2012 alone these regional groups raised £29, 585. Feed the Minds have also estimated that groups such as their Salisbury committee have sold in excess of 100,000 books over the last few decades.[11][12]