About Us


The spirit of the Centre’s aims has remained unchanged for over 100 years:

Swarthmore seeks to inspire lives through friendly learning within a commitment to equality of opportunity


Swarthmore is a centre for lifelong learning, community projects and family learning sessions as well as the courses and activities advertised in this brochure. Our main aim is to encourage people who want to learn but might not feel comfortable in more formal educational institutions. We work on a friendly, human scale, offering a confidential counselling service, on-site childcare and learning support. Many volunteers currently support the Centre’s work and we welcome their contributions of time and energy.

The Centre was founded by members of the Quaker movement in 1909 with the aim of including and involving people in learning activities and making sure that people were treated with equality and respect. Two members of the Society of Friends remain on our democratically elected ‘Council’ of Trustees, made up of Centre members and representatives of community organisations with shared aims. Swarthmore is a not-for-profit registered charity and a company limited by guarantee.
You can view the centre’s most recent accounts here. and our Annual Report 2017-2018 here

Our Grade II Listed Building has a fascinating history and is made up of six four-storey terraced houses with additional dance and art studios to the rear. We have specialist facilities for pottery, jewellery, stained glass, sculpture and computing, and the atmosphere is intentionally homely and informal. We also work within the local community on negotiated projects, including arts, ICT and ‘Skills for Life’ programmes.

Over 2000 people enrolled directly onto Swarthmore courses last year. Many more made use of the Centre as a community resource, providing facilities for a wide variety of local groups. Swarthmore attracts a social mix of people who come to the Centre because of their shared interests in learning rather than their background.

If you would like more information about the centre, SWARTHMORE’S CENTURY; A LEEDS EXPERIMENT IN ADULT EDUCATION, 1909–2009 by Tom Steele is an authoritative look into our history.