During the Indo – Pak war of liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, nearly 2 million refugees from Bangladesh landed in North Bengal for asylum; government machineries were unable to meet the needs of the refugees. Due to heavy influx ofrefugees, basic needs such as food, shelter and medical care collapsed. People of North Bengal faced innumerable problems. At once, then diocese of Dumka, feeling the dire needs of the people rushed to help; as a result, Social Welfare Institute came into existence.
To begin with, it focused its attention on the welfare of the refugees, then after the war, seeing the poverty stricken lives of the poorest and tribals in the area, it continued its services in order to uplift the downtrodden especially the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Within two years (1973), Social Welfare Institute was registered under the Societies Registration Act. From then on, it has been carrying out various welfare programs for the weaker sections of society in partnership with several donor agencies. Since 1985 the attention shifted to community based programs, specially through integrated approach at the village level. The main objective of Social Welfare Institute is to improve the existing social and economic condition of the poorest, specially the tribal people, and eliminate the enslaving systems in society through a process of empowerment.
It is noted that Social Welfare Institute (SWI) undertakes many developmental activities in rural areas of the three districts : North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, and Malda in the State of West Bengal in India. Moreover, our efforts continue to empower every section of the people and bring them into the mainstream of life with dignity, access to resources and rights, peace, and freedom. This has called for a movement towards rights based approach to development. Social Welfare Institute does not hesitate to be part of this process in empowering people and taking the side of the poor and vulnerable. Besides direct implementation of some of the programs through its own staff, Social Welfare Institute operates through over 65 various partners : some of them are minority institutions and some are non-faith based organizations.