About us – present and past

Panahpur (meaning ‘place of refuge’ in Hindi) is a UK-based foundation which seeks to operate its capital holistically to achieve its charitable goals, which are rooted in the Christian faith and reflect a concern for all people – especially the excluded, marginalised and vulnerable.

During the early 2000s, the board became uncomfortable with the paradigm that evolved during the 20th Century where a charitable foundation would delegate the operation of its capital to the financial services industry which focussed exclusively on financial outcomes, which were then used to give grants to charities. They became concerned that social interests in wealth creation on one hand and charitable outcomes on the other had become dis-aligned. The data showed that financial markets were increasing inequalities in societies whilst charitable intervention was, to a large degree, necessitated by an inequitable distribution of increasing wealth in these societies. To some degree, our investment and charitable activities were conflicting with one another.
This led the board to seek alternatives which enabled them to steward their capital in a way that was more integrated and consistent. This led the foundation into the emerging world of Social Investment.

The foundation is currently led by James Perry, a great-great grandson of Col Jacob who leads the Social Investment work, and Bob Moffett, a former lecturer in cross-cultural mission who leads the Mission Engagement. The board is chaired by Andrew Perry, a great grandson of Col Jacob.

History

“In 1885 there was an acute famine in Rajasthan. People were dying of starvation. At the same time there was raging a diphtheria epidemic. People left their sick and starving children on the roadside. Most of them were orphans. Colonel Sydney Long Jacob of Royal Engineers, who was the Chief Engineer of Punjab then. He was getting a canal constructed. Deep compassion moved him to stop, look at and pick up these children. He gathered about 30 of them. Approximately 18 were boys and 12 were girls. They ranged in ages from eight years to twenty five years. He cared for them in a temporary place. But the task required all his strength and time but he was in government service.
He requested several people and agencies to come forward to take up responsibility for caring for those children, but could not find anyone willing for suitable.

Our Founder and History…One day, while he was going on the road in Lahore, he heard Christian songs sung by two Muslim converts. He alighted from his horse and made enquiries and found these two brothers Gulab Shah and Musa Shah willing to be the caretakers and guardians of these children. Later, Gulab left the faith and became a Hindu. So it was Musa Shah and his wife who were the house parents of those children. Money was given to them by Col Jacob, who came regularly to meet them, gave guidance and supply of their needs.Col Jacob selected a quiet place in the Shivalik Hills of Punjab and acquired 400 bighas of land, of which 200 bighas remain. They consist of two hills mostly. Here the children were settled away from the wiles of city life to be an integrated group of Christian believers. The place was appropriately named ‘Panahpur’ like ‘Rehoboth’ Genesis 22. Here they took shelter and now have deep roots in it. The year by now was 1890”.
Pushpa N Lyall, 1990

 

Panahpur Charitable Trust was established in 1907 by Colonel Sydney Long Jacob. His son Alexis purchased some buildings in London in its name. The purpose of the trust was the “support of missionaries, charitable institutions and needy persons at home and abroad”.
In a representation of his faith, Col Jacob was not prescriptive about how this was to be done. In his words, “As in a matter of this sort it is useless to make a trust unless the trustees can be trusted. The fullest powers are accorded to them so that they can do anything the owner of the capital could do himself”.
For most of the twentieth century, the trust was operated as a family trust, with descendants of Col Jacob making donations to it, and grants out of income. The family retained a strong link with India, operating mission hospitals in the north and with various family members remaining in India as missionaries.
The major assets were approximately £1m of stocks & shares, with the remainder being some London properties, the biggest being occupied under a long lease by the Foreign Missions Club.
Andrew Perry, a great grandson of Colonel Jacob became the chairman in 1999, and set about the process of extracting the assets of the trust from legal encumbrances, and of renewing the trustee group.
By 2005, the properties were, or were about to be, sold. In excess of £5m was available for distribution.
The board is now composed of a mixture of leaders of charitable & mission organisations and social investment professionals.