Established in 1910, AGBU London is a branch of the global Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) founded in April 1906 in Cairo by Armenian philanthropists, who saw the need for a global philanthropic organisation to assist the destitute Armenian population living on historic Armenian lands in the eastern Armenian provinces and the Anatolian plateau of Ottoman Turkey. They sent delegations to all major cities of the world calling on Armenians to join them and support their mission.
By 1913 AGBU boasted a worldwide membership of over 9,300. The organization had over 160 Chapters in four continents, including 80 in Ottoman Turkey, 54 in the Americas, 25 in Europe and four in Africa. On the eve of the Armenian Genocide, AGBU maintained 40 schools, a teacher’s college and over 5,000 members in Turkey alone, clearly making it the organization’s strongest membership base. Today, global AGBU is the largest Armenian philanthropic organization in the world with a presence in 35 countries serving some 400,000 Armenians worldwide through educational, cultural and humanitarian programmes.
With an annual budget of £100,000, AGBU London actively supports the educational, cultural and social life of the UK Armenian community and promotes Armenian culture and heritage within the UK. It provides grants to the Saturday and Sunday Armenian Community schools, grants to undergraduate and postgraduate UK and non-UK students of Armenian descent studying at UK universities, and sponsors and organises public lectures, conferences, concerts and exhibitions. It also supports communities in the poor regions of Armenia and Karabakh with humanitarian aid to institutions for families and to schools of deprived or disabled children. In 2003 AGBU London embarked on a project to rebuild Pareshen village to give hope and future to the displaced and war torn communities of the border villages of Karabakh. AGBU London also organises numerous social events for the members of the UK community and actively provides opportunities for young people to network.