Our Story

In 2008, three friends – Sophie, Henrietta and Maurice – came together to create the SHM Foundation. Sophie was a filmmaker, Henrietta an anthropologist and Maurice a professor of literature.

They wanted to draw on their different skillsets and build a community of people who would work together to drive positive social change through projects that foster care, creativity, and human connection.

The SHM Foundation has grown steadily in the years since into a multidisciplinary team based in 6 countries. We have designed, implemented and funded projects with vulnerable communities across 19 countries, spanning mental health, education and the arts.

Today our mission is to support people and communities in developing solutions to the challenges they face, in ways that work for them.


Our support helps people and communities

Improve their mental health and wellbeing

Gain new skills, knowledge and employment opportunities

Access excellent artistic experiences that enrich their lives

We believe firmly in the ripple effects that are felt in communities, organisations, societies, when people feel supported, cared for and capable to exercise agency in their own lives

Milestones in our journey

First Programme

First Programme

The Foundation’s first programme was Marakwet, financially supporting women and girls in Kenya through university.


We developed a pioneering model that used mobile phones to create virtual support groups: the Zumbido Health model. It began in Mexico, creating support networks for women living with HIV.

New Office

We opened an office in South Africa and Project Khuluma was born, replicating the Zumbido Health model with young people living with HIV. Participants have gone on to become Khuluma Experts, who receive training and support to run the project with other young people.



In replicating the Zumbido Health model, we developed methodologies for participatory research and co-design, and creative use of digital tools, that we now use in lots of contexts – both in our own projects, and collaborating with other organisations on theirs.


The Icon of Freedom festival was a festival celebrating Mexican culture and the great 17th century writer and thinker Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. The five day festival celebrated the lasting impact of Sor Juana’s work on fashion, art and Mexican gastronomy, through a showcase of film, poetry, music and talks.


After a decade of running Zumbido, we had learnt a lot about the power of community-based mental health care – and about the challenges of working in this field. So we created Ember, an initiative that supports excellent local mental health projects around the world.



The Zumbido model has been replicated across Southern Africa and the Khuluma Experts now play an increasingly central role in this process - as technical consultants, facilitators, project managers and researchers.


Today the SHM Foundation has nearly two decades of experience designing, implementing, funding and evaluating projects around the world.

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