Ian Karten Charitable Trust


Welcome to the website of the Ian Karten Charitable Trust.

This website was launched in December 2020 to mark the centenary of the Trust’s founder, Ian Karten MBE.  You will find here the story of Ian’s life, together with information about the Trust’s contributions in the fields of education and of technological support for disabled people.

Since 1980, Ian’s trust has supported the education of thousands of individuals at UK universities, many of whom could not otherwise have afforded it; has funded over 100 ‘Karten Centres’ for supporting disabled people with assistive technology; and has made substantial grants to centres for Jewish/non-Jewish relations at Southampton and Cambridge Universities. 

Photo of Ian Karten
Ian Karten MBE

Ian was a remarkable man.  Born in Vienna in 1920, the son of Jewish parents, he escaped to England while all his family were murdered by the Nazis apart from his mother who survived the concentration camp at Buchenwald.  After a period in the RAF, he worked for a company called Multitone which pioneered personal paging devices, becoming its managing director and major shareholder.  You can read his remarkable story here.

In 1968, Ian married my aunt, Mildred Hart, and both of them left their estates to the Trust when they passed away.  I am proud to continue the family association with the Trust, along with my daughter Alexandra who is also a trustee. 

Ian initially established the Trust to provide scholarships for foreign students to study at English and Israeli universities, reflecting financial support that Ian had received when he came to the UK.  We continue to provide support for university students in partnership with other institutions, notably Southampton, Cambridge and Birkbeck Universities.  We have lost count of the number of students that the Trust has supported – it is believed to be well over 3,000 in total.  Many of these people could not have afforded to study without the support they received from the Trust.

Ian was also interested in Jewish-non-Jewish relations, and the Trust have made substantial capital grants to the Parkes Institute at Southampton University and the Woolf Institute at Cambridge.  You can read more about these institutions on the relevant pages of this website.

Ian with student in a wheelchair

Later in his life, Ian saw a quadriplegic man write a letter on a computer with his chin.  Ian was deeply moved by the man’s reaction to this and it sparked an interest in the benefits that new technology could have in transforming the lives of disabled people.  He realised that his Trust could make a real difference in this area and conceived the idea of a series of ‘Karten Centres’ in a range of institutions including colleges and charities with residential and day provision, where the Trust would provide computer equipment which the Centres would use to train their disabled clients.  By the time Ian died in 2011, there were over 100 Karten Centres.  It was part of Ian’s vision that the centres should be connected by a network for the sharing of best practice.  This is facilitated through a separate company called Karten Network Limited, chaired by Arwyn Jones, and a ‘Network Coordinator’, Dawn Green.

As technology has moved on, and personal devices have become more mobile, the Trust has been giving more emphasis to training those involved with the use of technology by disabled people.  The Network’s technology adviser, Martin Pistorius, provides technical support to the Karten Centres and we have also arranged with Natspec to fund ‘Techability’, a service for Karten centres and other specialist further education colleges for those with special needs.  The Techability assistive technologists provide a range of assistance ranging from workshops and training events to planning programmes of study.

I am very grateful to all those who give their services to help the work which the Trust does, particularly my fellow trustees Sal Cooke OBE, Edward Copisarow and Alex.  Ian’s legacy has made, and continues to make, a real difference to the lives of many people. 

Thanks also to Martin and Dawn for promoting this website.  Please enjoy it and remember Ian and Mildred as you read about the benefits of their philanthropy.

Karten Centres – Centenary Film

We are very excited to share a short film which shows some of our Karten Centres in action in 2020.  Thank you so much for students and staff at New Bridge Group for filming the activities in Karten Centres and for producing the film. Thanks to the following organisations for participating in this project: