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A history of Shelter Scotland's Impact

Over the last 50 years, Shelter Scotland has been at the heart of directing changes in legislation affecting homelessness and bad housing. On this page you can browse a brief summary of some of the achievements and campaigns throughout our history:

Shelter Scotland 50th Anniversary Logo


The country wakes up to the housing crisis on its doorstep after a quarter of the British public watch Cathy Come Home - a film about a young family pulled apart by worsening housing. After months of planning, Shelter launches.


Shelter Scotland is formed to deal with the unique challenges of homelessness and bad housing in Scotland.

Family in crowded conditions


Shelter Scotland opens its first housing aid centre based in Edinburgh. Housing aid means that we can give 1-2-1 help to people who are homeless.

Children playing in the street


Shelter Scotland's campiagning helps to get the Homeless People Act implemented, which places duties on councils to assist homeless families.

Family standing outside bad housing


Shelter launched The Rural Housing Initiative which targeted homes that were lying empty. The initiative helped set up a new breed of community-based rural housing associations, and posed a rural housing challenge for the fledgling government agency, Scottish Homes.


In Edinburgh, Shelter also piloted a project working with young unemployed people to build homes, which enjoyed praise, and a visit, from HRH Prince Charles.


Shelter also launched eight Care and Repair projects throughout Scotland that helped older people who needed their accommodation adapted to allow them to stay in their homes.

Man receives advice and practical care for his home


Our in-house team of lawyers is formed to take on cases directly on behalf of our clients.

A lawyer stands outside of a courtroom


Shelter Scotland tackles the increasing number of young Scots who are destitute through our campaign for the Rough Sleepers' Initiative - stopping the rise in street homelessness.

A man sits in a cardbox box to portray homeless life


Our national helpline opens, answering 40,000 calls in its first year.


Shelter Scotland launches its first Families Project, providing practical and emotional support for homeless families with children.


At Shelter Scotland's recommendation, the Government sets up the Homelessness Task Force. By 2002, it has set out the most ambitious programme of action on homelessness ever seen in Shelter's time.

Woman on phone in temporary accommodation


After the introduction of the Homelessness (Scotland) Act 2003, the Government limits the use of bed and breakfast hotels for families waiting for a permanent home.

Family with a baby in bed and breakfast temporary accommodation


After years of campaigning from Shelter Scotland, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme comes into force, which to this day, ensures 11 million tenants' deposits are protected.


The ground-breaking commitment to ending priority need in homelessness applications, known as the 2012 commitment is introduced. This commitment means everyone unintentionally homeless household is entitled to a settled home.


The Under Occupancy Deduction, also known as the 'bedroom tax', is introduced in the UK. This means a reduction in the housing benefit social tenants receive if they are deemed to have a spare bedroom.

Shelter Scotland successfully campaigns for the government to protect the most vunerable from these changes.

Monster costumed campaigner holding up a sign urging to banish the bedroom tax monster


Shelter Scotland campaigned to end 'Right to Buy' which had resulted in the loss of half a million council homes. The Scottish Government removed the 'Right to Buy' in 2016 meaning socially rented homes are now protected for those who need them, and local authorities have started to build again.


In 2016 the Scottish Government responded to our campaign calling for more affordable homes and committed to build 50,000 new affordable homes by 2021


In September 2016, Shelter Scotland launched a national campaign called Homelessness: Far From Fixed. This campaign successfully put homelessness firmly on the political agenda. One year into the campaign the First Minister announced that national objectives would be set to eradicate rough sleeping, to establish a homelessness and rough sleeping action group and to create an ‘Ending Homelessness Together’ Fund. These commitments are welcome and begin to address some of our calls for action, funding and mechanisms for change.

Campaigners launching the 'Far From Fixed' campaign in Glasgow


High profile campaigning by Shelter Scotland to 'Make Renting Right' leads to the Scottish Parliament passing landmark legislation, which significanly boosts the legal rights of private tenants to stay securely in their rented homes.

Campaigners on the street urging to make renting right


More people than ever come to us for help. Our frontline advisors and support workers help over 21,000 people across Scotland and more than 820,000 people access information and advice through our website.

Shelter Scotland staff helping a client in a face to face meeting


50 years on, we’re still fighting until there’s a home for everyone.

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