Digital inclusion for the homeless

On Saturday 16th June, Westminster City Council with Go ON UK and GDS will be holding a hack day to help the homeless.

We need your help in making sure that the tools that come out of the day are useful, accessible and inclusive, for one of the least-served groups of digitally excluded people.

With the provision of free wi-fi in an increasing number of high traffic community areas and the availability of mobile technology, using digital technology to engage with the homeless community is becoming a more pressing need.

Many homeless charities are already using digital technology in innovative ways. St. Basils have helped create the Virtual Backpack, which keeps homeless people’s personal information (passport details, NI number, medical details and CV) safe and secure online where they cannot be lost, broken or stolen. HomelessLink gives details of over 9,000 services including hostels, day centres, advice and support services for those who are already homeless as well as those who are at risk, a resource that can be accessed by professionals assisting those groups of people even if not accessed by the individuals themselves.

But more could be done.

Westminster City Council, with the help of Go ON UK and GDS are holding a hack day on Saturday 16th June. The request is simple, to build something useful and accessible, either for the homeless themselves, for the professionals who assist them, or for any member of public wanting to help in some way. The platform that this is delivered across is also open, covering web, mobile or other platform. Assistance will be available from experts in this area on the day to help with ideas and on Friday 11th May, results of a pre hack day discussion with homeless charities explaining the needs of the homeless in this area will be published.

At the end of the day there will be a ‘show and tell’ of all the solutions, with prizes for the best (to be announced!). There will also be support for successful ideas emerging from the day; the best ones could even develop into a national initiative, piloted by Westminster City Council and homeless charities. Oh and there will be lots of food on the day, sponsored by the Post Office.

So if you’re a developer or a designer or know someone who is, come and help us make life easier for homeless people and the people who help them. Why not sign up now?

Note: Image attribution to Katie Earley used under Creative Commons license.


  1. Please could you avoid the term ”The Homeless”. Those who are homeless are also people. ‘Homeless people’ or ‘People who are homeless’ are much better terms.

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