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About Us

The Besom was founded by James Odgers in 1987. Early in that year, James left the practice of law in London to go to Hong Kong where he served in a Christian ministry involved with heroin addicts. What particularly affected him there was not so much the absolute levels of human degradation and poverty that he encountered but the ever widening gap that exists between those of us who have and can give and those who are in need. On the plane leaving Hong Kong in September 1987, James wrote the original mission statement for Besom - that it should provide a bridge between those who want to give money, time, skills or things, and those who are in need. It ensures that what is given is used effectively. The Besom began in the spare bedroom of James' basement flat in Shepherds Bush in London and now, some 26 years later, there are over 30 different Besoms scattered around the UK, all following the same principles and vision.

Why ‘The Besom’?

The name 'Besom' derives from a broom made of twigs - hence Besom's strapline of 'sweep away suffering'. James Odgers was nicknamed Besom by his sisters when he was a boy as he was often to be found sweeping up the leaves in the yard of their family home outside London. While researching whether to use the name for establishing the Besom Foundation, and fearful that it might already be the name of some huge American timber combine, James went to the Shorter Oxford Dictionary to find an example of its earliest use. This turned out to be 'sweep thy soul clene with the besom of the drede of God'. He has since then discovered that, albeit spelt 'byssome', the word was to be found in an early edition of St. Matthew's Gospel from 1000AD.


Ways to give

  • Give your time
  • Give your money
  • Give your skills
  • Give your things

Annual Besom Conference

We hold an annual conference for all those thinking about starting their own or who are interested in our work.  watch this space for details of our 2018 event!

Simplicity, Love & Justice

Simplicity, Love & Justice
- a ten week discussion course
Find out more