The Marlborough Brandt Group MBG was set up in 1981 by a committed group of people living in Marlborough, Wiltshire, UK, who responded to the publication of the Brandt Report ‘North South – A Programme for Survival’, published by Willy Brandt one time Chancellor of West Germany.
In 1982 a link was forged between Marlborough and Gunjur, a Muslim community in The Gambia, in the hope that by gaining a deeper understanding of each other through shared experiences and mutual exchange this would educate not only those directly involved but politicians and the wider communities around them.
Since then MBG and its partner organisations in The Gambia have achieved just that! With some 1500 people from Wiltshire and The Gambia taking part in the exchange program, staying with local families, contributing to community projects and sharing best educational practices.
Our educational arm the Wiltshire Global Education Centre WGEC was established in 1993 and is part of the national network of development education centres across the UK. WGEC is also a recognised CPD provider of the newly launched national Global Learning Programme.
WGEC uses its unique and extensive experience of Gunjur and The Gambia to provide a sound knowledge basis for its global educational training courses and in its support for school links – as well as organizing regular teacher study visits to Gunjur!
Over the past 30 years, groups of students from St John’s School (now an International Academy) and Marlborough College have been going on educational visits to Gunjur to stay with host families. Some of those students have returned for longer volunteer placements and have gone on to use Gunjur as part of their PhD theses research.
Many young Gambians have visited Marlborough either on short visits to be involved in projects in Marlborough and surrounding schools in Wiltshire or for longer periods of training in a variety of skills, from early childhood education, social work, hotel management, librarianship and welding.
MBG also supports an integrated development programme in The Gambia coordinated and managed by a project support group here in Wiltshire and by its partner organization TARUD (Trust Agency for Rural Development) in Gunjur.
We’re busy all year round with regular fundraising activities including the critically acclaimed Brilliant Young Pianists at St Peter's Church concerts run in collaboration with St Peter's Trust, Marlborough.
Our annual Lent Lecture has been running for over 30 years, with guest keynote speakers on International Development including HRH Princess Royal as President of Save the Children, Archbishop George Carey, Lord Kinnock, Jonathan Porritt, Barbara Stocking, Director of OXFAM, Clare Short, and Andrew Mitchell as Secretaries of State for International Development, journalists Jon Snow, George Alagiah, Mark Tully and Deputy Secretary General of the UN Mark Malloch-Brown.
MBG has long been recognized and used within the international linking communities such as UKOWLA as an example of a successful and sustainable community link. This has led to the promotion and development of community based partnerships between communities across the UK with counterparts in the Global South.
In 2013 Marlborough Area Board awarded a grant of £1241 to develop a new website. The website was launched February 2014 and is already making a significant difference to our work. We sincerely thank the Marlborough Area Board for their support.