Our story



The Phoenix Futures Group is founded on a passion for showing that recovery from drugs and alcohol is possible.

Phoenix Futures grew from a disillusion with the medically oriented way people were treated for drug use in the late 1960’s. Two men, Professor Griffith Edwards and Dr Ian Christie, decided it was time to make a change.

Inspired by the practice of Phoenix House in New York, they set up Phoenix House in the UK in 1969.

Phoenix House (today Phoenix Futures) grew from modest yet ambitious beginnings. Professor Edwards and Dr Christie wanted to provide a service that took a more personal and therapeutic approach to helping people with drug problems.

In 1968 Dr Christie set up the first Therapeutic Community (TC) in the UK, the Pink Villa Huts at St James’ Hospital in Portsmouth. The Pink Villa Huts (later Alpha House) were soon followed by Phoenix’s first Residential Therapeutic Community at Featherstone Lodge in Sydenham Hill, South London in 1970.


The Therapeutic Community model created a place where social relationships, day structures and activities were specially designed to provide support and bring about positive change in the lives of those affected by drugs, which was unheard of in the UK at the time. We still champion the TC model at Phoenix today.

The next four decades demonstrated the ambitious and innovative drive of the Phoenix Futures Group. Here are just some of our key achievements and milestones…

Five years after the opening of the Residential TC at Featherstone Lodge, Phoenix begins a Re-Entry programme to provide a safe transition back into the wider community after completing the Residential TC programme. Throughout the 1980’s Phoenix opens more TC and Re-Entry services throughout England. In 1987 the first Residential service for families and children is opened in the annex of Featherstone Lodge.


In 1987 Phoenix House becomes a Housing Association making us the only substance misuse service provider registered to supply social housing.



In 1992 we open our first service in Scotland, the Glasgow Residential Service. The Glasgow Residential Service adopts the Therapeutic Community principles and the ethos common to all Phoenix Futures services.


Our first prison service opens in HMP Wayland in 1994 providing rehabilitation for inmates while they carry out their sentences. In the same year we open our first community based criminal justice service in partnership with South Yorkshire Probation Service.


More prison-based and criminal justice services open around England in the following years, with our first Scottish prison service opening in 2001.



In 2005 Phoenix launches the Conservation Therapy Programme, which connects participants with the natural environment to aid their recovery. This programme led the way for the Recovery through Nature programme that we run today.



In 2006 Phoenix House is renamed Phoenix Futures, the name we now trade under.



OurStory-2012In 2012 the drug and alcohol misuse service provider NORCAS joins Phoenix adding specialist services in Norfolk and Suffolk to the charity.



OurStory-2014In 2014 London-based Foundation66 joins the Phoenix Futures and NORCAS bringing with them expertise in alcohol detox and old people’s care, along with a number of residential properties.



Today the Phoenix Futures Group is made up of Phoenix Futures and Phoenix Futures Scotland. We provide services for those affected by drug and alcohol misuse in residential, community, and prison settings.

We’ve come a long way since our beginnings in 1969, but one thing remains the same: we are passionate about supporting people on their journey to recovery.

Phoenix Futures is a registered charity in England and Wales (No 284880) and in Scotland (No SCO39008); Company Limited by Guarantee Number 1626869; Registered Provider of Social Housing with Homes England (H3795).