The Foundation for Human Development (fHD)

22-36 Paxton Place

Gipsy Hill, London SE27 9SS



Written, designed and printed by trainees and volunteers

fHD brochure page one

fHD brochure page two

fHD brochure page three

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fHD brochure page five


This project was started and managed throughout by Ruth Phillips. Based in Crystal Palace, in an area of mixed race with a high level of socially-excluded and disadvantaged people, it represented a great 'light' in the dim obscurity of poverty and hopelessnes.

Beginning in 1998, it was 75% funded by grants and 25% self-funded by its own social enterprise.  Despite huge local support and success on every front, the decision to close the project was made in 2003. This represented a massive loss to the local community. Our closure, as is the case with many community projects in London, was largely due to the huge strain put upon small organisations by the complexities of voluntary sector funding and the necessity to dedicate excessive resources and time to extremely complex annual funding bids as well as detailed ongoing monitoring. 

It is a continuing tragedy in the UK and elsewhere that the vicissitudes of government policies and their complete absence of any type of long-term financial security for the voluntary sector combines with powerful economic factors (in which they play a key role) to create a massive lack social cohesion, deprivation and despair in our inner cities and throughout the country.  

Following is a brief description of the project.

The aim of this project was to teach life & work skills as well as personal development, based on the principles of non-violence, reciprocity, treating others as you would like to be treated and learning by teaching others. We also taught a wide range of very practical skills for work and promoted self-confidence and motivation through our methodology of teaching & learning.

Over the life of the project, we gave work experience and gained qualifications for over 1,200 participants and raised more than £4 million.  Financing was raised from a combination of EU, local authority, national government, charitable and further educations grants and our own social enterprise.  We had government New Deal contracts for helping participants back into work and we also generated a substantial income from the ‘in-house’ social enterprise which was staffed mainly by project participants who were of all ages and can be broadly categorised as the ‘socially-excluded’, disabled, discriminated and poor of South London.

We had a large and enthusiastic amount of local support, we involved and trained hundreds of active volunteers each year and grew to a staff team of 35. It was considered a very innovative project incorporating accredited training with in-house work experience as well as an integrated ‘skills swap’ program, funded by the New Economics Foundation, where 'trainees' gained confidence and self-esteem by passing on their extisting and newly-learned skills and knowledge to others on the project. 

We developed the following departments all of which were offering nationally accredited training & work experience for all our trainees as well as high quality services to the community. 

  • A graphic and website design studio producing websites, newsletters, and design for the public, businesses and other voluntary sector organisations as well as providing nationally accredited qualifications to our trainees
  • A publishing department that created two local community newsletters supported by local business advertising, Crystal Palace Views and Peckham Views,  produced & distributed by trainees & volunteers  
  • A fully equipped print shop using a traditional Heidelberg printing press, providing training and work experience for participants
  • A computer building & recycling department providing services of computer maintenance to local businesses and the voluntary sector as well as nationally accredited qualifications to our trainees
  • An ESOL (English as a Second Language) training centre offering high quality national qualifications
  • A crèche for trainees and the community, also offering National Vocational Qualifications
  • A personal development centre teaching self-awareness and non-violence