[Skip to Content]
The postal paradox

The postal paradox

The postal paradox

Wednesday, March 13, 2019
A fixed postal address is vital for people who are homeless to access and engage with the services they need, but being homeless means many people won’t have access to a fixed postal address. This leaves people who are homeless trapped in a catch-22 situation where they can’t access support for being homeless because of the fact that they’re homeless.
Citizens Advice have published research that looks at the impact of not having a fixed postal address. It draws on interviews with people who are homeless and day centre staff, surveys of local Citizens Advice staff and MPs, and conversations with national homeless charities. The findings show that having no fixed postal address prevents people from accessing the support they need in two ways:
1. People who are homeless are likely to miss important correspondence, such as letters from the Jobcentre, courts and healthcare services, which can lead to benefit sanctions, arrest warrants, dropping down waiting lists and even missing out on housing.
2. People who are homeless are excluded from accessing the services they need, with the most notable problem being unable to open a bank account.
This video summarises the research.
To help homeless people access postal services, Citizens Advice are recommending:
Royal Mail should establish a free PO box type system for people who are homeless, giving them an address to use to apply for key services and somewhere to receive mail.
Post Office Ltd should adjust the Poste Restante service to allow people who are homeless, as well as existing users, to have their post sent to a post office.
Citizens Advice is pleased to have established a working group with Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd to try explore solutions that could give people who are homeless an address and access to post. 
Have your say!
As experts in the field, you are invited to share your views on these proposals with Citizens Advice. You can submit any comments you have via a short survey form here.
Thanks for your input on this important topic


News and Views

  • Influencing local decisions

    Influencing local decisions

    Zoe, Frontline Network Coordinator at Coventry Citizens Advice, talks to us about the Coventry Frontline Network and...
  • The Litigant in Person Network

    The Litigant in Person Network

    Martha de la Roche, Network Development Manager at Litigant in Person Network (LiP Network), tells us about The LiP N...
  • VRF Impact Report

    VRF Impact Report

    Find out what impact VRF had last year and how to get involved in shaping its direction in the coming year.
  • Housing First Scotland

    Housing First Scotland

    Please see here for the first issue of Housing First Connect - a twice-yearly newsletter for Scotland’s new Housing F...
  • Slaying the Dragon

    Slaying the Dragon

    Will Golding, Edinburgh Tutor at Crisis, talks to us about 'Slaying the Dragon'.
  • CPAG - Early Warning System

    CPAG - Early Warning System

    Dan Norris, from CPAG, talks to us about a new Early Warning System to record the impact of benefit changes implement...
  • The Hostile Environment

    The Hostile Environment

    Bethan Lant, a Project lead from Praxis, writes about the creation of a hostile environment for migrants and refugees.
  • Wrexham’s Crisis Cafe

    Wrexham’s Crisis Cafe

    Sinead Kelleher writes about Wrexham's Crisis Cafe, a multi-agency response to Universal Credit.
  • Frontline Worker Survey

    Frontline Worker Survey

    We are asking frontline workers to participate in a survey, aimed at those working with clients who are experiencing...
  • A map through conflict

    A map through conflict

    A Cyrenians Mediator writes about their innovative Amber Mediation and Support Project, a model of mediation and supp...
  •  “A place to call home"

    “A place to call home"

    Hannah Gousy was seconded from Crisis to the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) to help design policy recommendations to...
  • A London Nightshelter

    A London Nightshelter

    On 7 November we opened our church-based shelters for the winter with more churches signed on then ever before. Glass...
  • 'Step Up' at The Connection

    'Step Up' at The Connection

    Wyn Newman introduces the volunteer programme 'Step Up' that has been developed at The Connection for service users.