MHF was founded in 1976 with shares in Laws Stores Ltd, a Tyneside-based food retailing firm founded in Byker in 1907 by Arthur McClelland (1884-1966).
The Foundation only had significant income after Laws Stores was sold in 1985. Most of MHF’s grants between 1985 and 1996 were to relatively small local projects seeking to improve the conditions of the most deprived people in Tyne and Wear. In 1996 the Trustees decided to concentrate resources on projects which most other funding bodies can not or will not support.
The current priority is to promote social change by funding projects that inform discussion and influence public policy, with the aim of empowering communities and reducing social deprivation. As of February 2015 the Trustees do not accept unsolicited applications