The Literacy Crisis in the Homeless Population

homeless education literacy

There are many barriers to accessing support faced by homeless people. One major area that needs more investigation is the appalling literacy rate in the homeless population. A study by the charity St Mungo’s Broadway in 2014, found that 51% of 139 homeless clients lacked basic skills in written English. In the general population, the percentage of people that would not achieve a grade 1 at GCSE is around 15%.

Illiteracy and Homelessness

The St Mungo’s Broadway report details the added difficulty that illiteracy brings to lives already characterised by exclusion and disadvantage. The low literacy rates when compared to the general adult population also raises the question of whether lacking these skills may contribute to homelessness. An inability to understand written requests for payment, for instance, could lead to eviction.

Solving the Literacy Crisis

The solution to the literacy crisis in the homeless population involves putting together training programmes that take the additional needs of homeless people into account. A standard college course of 12 weeks relies on a person attending every class. Miss one and you’ll be left behind. St Mungo’s and other charities have been trying to implement education projects. Most recently, the STRIVE pilot that was launched with great government fanfare in 2018 – but denied statutory funding leaving only 3% of accommodation projects and 7% of day centres able to report that they receive funding for ‘employment and education’.

Our Apps

All of our apps designed for use by the homeless community have a strong intuitive visual design and allow for speech-to-text input. Where it is necessary to enter information, a person who struggles with writing can speak into the microphone of their smartphone and the app will translate what they say into written words.

For more information about any of our apps or to get involved in the Kanndoo project, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – email