The Helena Kennedy Foundation was set up by Dr Ann Limb CBE DL in 1998 to take forward in a practical way the recommendations of Learning Works, the seminal report by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC – President of the Foundation – which drew attention to the needs of adult learners nationally.

Learning Works identified that there were over 15 million adults of working age with few or no formal qualifications, many of whom faced significant barriers to continuing with or returning to education.

Dr Limb, together with a group of further education college principals and adult educators, set up the Helena Kennedy Foundation to make a practical contribution to government policies on social justice, widening participation in education and equality & diversity. Recognising that bursary awards would act as a primary incentive in widening participation and tackling social injustice in further and higher education, the Foundation pioneered the award of bursaries for adult and further education students progressing to higher education, introducing them in 1998, six years before bursary schemes became a feature of government policy in the Higher Education Act of 2004.

The Foundation's work and reputation continues to grow incrementally and it is now well established and supported by the further education sector. Its reputation in the higher education sector is growing steadily as the provisions of the 2004 Higher Education Act, such as variable fees and institutional bursaries, are implemented.