UCL Grand Challenges


Rural Healthcare in Central London: Investigating Access for Transient Boaters of No Fixed Address

This project will focus on basic healthcare within London's transient boater community who, despite living within an urban centre, due to have no fixed address.

The last lock -  Mary Hinkley © UCL Media Services - University College London

1 September 2021


Grant: Grand Challenges Doctoral Students' Small Grants
Year awarded: 2021-22
Amount awarded: £1,775

Project Team 

  • Nura Ali, Development Planning Unit
  • Joseph Cook, Anthropology

This project focuses on issues surrounding accessing basic healthcare within London's transient boater community. This community has multiplied by a factor of five in the last decade, with an estimated 2200 boats now in the capital being home to an expanding population who, despite living within an urban centre, due to having no fixed address often face rural health challenges such as difficulty voting, claiming benefits and registering with GP services. With research showing that nearly four in ten (36%) of London's boaters have had problems registering with a GP due to lack of permanent address, a further 30% have not even attempted to register and with those who are registered being based on average 47km from their GP practice, the project will explore the issue by engaging with both sides: GPs practices and the boating community. The aim of the project is to understand how access issues can be addressed, develop a set of pragmatic tips for boaters and produce a policy proposal for the interest of the NHS and the Canal and River Trust.

A photo essay of the project showcasing cooperation and engagement with the boating community will be produced to help to humanise the issue.

Outputs and Impact