Groundswell awarded £1.5million to work with Crisis and Shelter to improve homeless healthcare through #HealthNow

The National Lottery Community Fund have agreed a transformational four-year grant of £1,528,299 to Groundswell, to partner with charities Crisis and Shelter to take a national approach to overcoming homeless health inequalities.

#HealthNow promotes an inclusive health system where everyone has access to the health care they need; ultimately moving people out of homelessness. The #HealthNow model and partnerships have been developed over the past year thanks to funding from the Tudor Trust and Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

People experiencing homelessness have highly complex health needs resulting in an average of 11 people dying every week in the UK; more than a quarter who are under 40 years old.  University College London (UCL) recently found that nearly one third of homeless people die from treatable conditions.

When someone is homeless, they are often living chaotic lives, trying to navigate systems working in silos to find a safe place to sleep, secure work, claim benefits and overcome debt – their health is not a priority.

#HealthNow will roll out Groundswell’s award-winning Homeless Health Peer Advocacy (HHPA) model into Birmingham and Newcastle by partnering with the local Crisis Skylight Centers in the cities, and in Manchester through the local Shelter team. HHPA trains people with experience of homelessness to become volunteer peer advocates, they help homeless people navigate the health system, engage and address their health problems. HHPA is proven to improve health by increasing access to healthcare; it also reduces the rate of DNA’s (‘did not attend’) and saves the NHS money.

In addition to directly supporting homeless people to access the health care they need, #HealthNow will form alliances in Birmingham, Greater Manchester and Newcastle. The local #HealthNow alliances will be informed by peer led research to understand and raise awareness of local barriers to accessing healthcare for homeless people. The local insight will inform a national #HealthNow alliance leading to nationwide actions being adopted to improve homeless health.

#HealthNow is underpinned by participation; people with experience of homelessness will be delivering the research and the peer advocacy, as well as being members of the local and national #HealthNow alliance. Their insight will draw attention to the homeless health inequalities and their experiences will shape the solutions that will ultimately tackle the inequalities.

If you’d like to find out more about #HealthNow, sign up to the newsletter or enquire about how you or your orgnanisation can be involved click here. 

From the partners

“The funding for #HealthNow and Groundswell’s partnership with Crisis and Shelter will make a real difference to the health inequality faced by people experiencing homelessness. Scaling up the reach and impact of Groundswell’s successful peer advocacy and peer research through partnerships, will both raise awareness of the barriers to care that people face and increase access to healthcare.  The #HealthNow alliance will put people together with decision makers to create practical solutions leading to systems shifts, so that people get the right healthcare in the right place and the right time.”

 Jenny McAteer, #HealthNow Director, Groundswell.


“It’s fantastic that the #HealthNow project has been awarded this funding and we look forward to working with Groundswell and Shelter to get the programme underway. Sadly, for people experiencing homelessness in the UK, accessing healthcare can be one of the many challenges they face. Things most of us take for granted, like registering with a GP, can be nearly impossible for reasons as basic as not having a fixed address.  This is why is it vital that we ensure our healthcare system is able to provide the right support for anyone experiencing homelessness and we hope this project will go a long way in doing so, so we can help more people leave homelessness behind for good.”

Rebecca Pritchard, Director of Services, Crisis.


“We’re really excited to be working with Groundswell to deliver a project with so much potential, in terms of the impact on people and the impact on the systemic structural barriers that prevent homeless people from accessing their rights to health-care.”

Vanessa Dixon, Head of Operations, Shelter.

Bex from Crisis, Jenny from Groundswell and Vanessa from Shelter with the Big lottery cheque

Image L-R: Rebecca Pritchard, Crisis; Jenny McAteer, Groundswell and Vanessa Dixon, Shelter