Financial crises and poverty are sadly nothing new. 150 years ago His Majesty King Leopold II supported the creation of the Royal Belgian Benevolent Society to help Belgians living in the UK who had fallen on hard times. The first aim of this group of Belgian philanthropists, which included Jean-Sylvain Van de Weyer and Jonathan-Raphael Bishoffsheim, was to repatriate Belgians in need to their home country. Over the years the RBBS continued to offer support to Belgians in the UK who needed their help, under the enduring patronage of the King of the Belgians.
During the 1980's the Benevolent Society, in close co-operation with the British Council in Belgium, widened the meaning of "Belgians in Need" and began to offer modest financial awards to Belgian postgraduate students who had an opportunity to study at British universities but did not have sufficient means to do so.
Created in 1866 the RBBS is the oldest foreign charity operating in the UK and is governed by the Charities Commission.