Freedom Pass Research

A Freedom Pass is a free Oyster Card that is available for people over 60, and for some disabled people.

A disabled homeless man was given a Freedom Pass and he used it to prove that he was disabled, and thus entitled to a concessionary theatre ticket. The single transaction made him realise that his Freedom Pass was the only proof of disability he had.  The notion of proof led him to realise that counting Freedom Passes in the hands of homeless people would also count disabled people, but without offending people by asking about their disabilities and impediments. Freedom Passes are a positive thing, and there is no offence given or taken in talking or asking about them.

 In 2003 he counted sixty Freedom Passes outside of one night shelter and in 2004 he asked Homelessness Service Providers to count Freedom Passes and DLA papers independently. The results showed that more than half of all homeless people in London were disabled. From that insight the need for Good 4 You, a charity for disabled and homeless people, was born.


During these studies very many homeless people asked how to get a Freedom Pass and presented documents that proved them to be severely disabled. Good 4 You became a vehicle for helping those people too. With the help of 20 volunteers from the Homelessness Outreach Team of the South African Congregation in London, Good 4 You set about helping the clients at Union Chapel Margins Day Centre to apply for Freedom Passes. This project monitored only those applications that were made to Islington Borough Council during three weeks (May/June 2005) of the entire project.

 The practical research, throughout the entire period, was supplemented by vigorous reading on disability theory and research into medical conditions among homeless people. In mid-2003 this man went on Radio Leeds as a guest of John Boyd and asked if he could bring a guest along. He asked Colin Barnes, Professor of Disability Studies at Leeds University, to go with him. The man explained on air that missing a leg was an impediment and a disability was when society made one’s life difficult because one had no leg. Professor Barnes endorsed what he said and explained that acne is hardly a problem, medically. But people are cruel and unkind to those who have acne to such an extent that many people with acne have been driven to suicide, and that makes acne a very serious disability.

 Being driven to suicide by social exclusion opened the man’s eyes all the way to how homeless people are socially excluded. He read up on how all disabled people suffer some degree of social exclusion. Social exclusion forms a vital and central part of this report.

 Download the complete 58 page PDF report: