As with many so-called ‘hard to reach’ groups, homeless people often have other people’s solutions imposed upon them and have very little say in services designed for their benefit. ‘User-centred’ design is now the standard in most industries; why don’t homeless people have more input into the design and delivery of projects that are supposed to be for them?

This is the central insight that drives Groundswell, a charity that exists to enable homeless and vulnerable people to take more control of their lives. As part of their mission they set up the Homeless Health Peer Advocacy service which supports homeless people across London to access vital healthcare. Delivered by volunteers who all have personal experience of homelessness the service has been incredibly successful and supporting 5,000 beneficiaries in 2014-15.

Groundswell wanted to explore whether social investment could be a tool to help them scale up and they commissioned Numbers for Good through the Big Potential Breakthrough fund on account of our experience in the social investment sector and of supporting social enterprises.

Our work focused on evaluating the different growth strategies open to Groundswell. Should they expand further in London, look at national roll out, develop a franchise system or explore how they could use the peer-support approach in areas other than health?

Through the process we helped recruit a new financial director for the organisation and explored various financial instruments that could catalyse further growth of Groundswell – such as working capital facilities and investment in property.

Groundswell are still on the journey to decide whether social investment is right for them, but through our work we hope to have empowered them to better make a decision to use social investment and provided valuable insights into how best they can grow.

Athol Halle, Groundswell CEO said:

“We really enjoyed working with Numbers for Good. They made sure they really got to know our work, and were very responsive in the way they worked with us, helping us develop a more robust and thoughtful strategy.”

To find out how Numbers for Good can support you through Big Potential, email

Photo credit: Nikos Koutoulas