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Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness through our advice, support and legal services. We campaign to make sure that one day, no one will have to turn to us for help.

When doing this, we process personal data about people who receive advice, guidance or housing support services from us – or provide us with support through campaigns, donations, booking on training courses or volunteering.  We are committed to protecting your privacy and take this responsibility very seriously. We therefore take care to safeguard it. This notice outlines what data we collect, how we may use it, how we protect your data and your rights.

This notice includes any data we collect from you during your relationship with Shelter, The National Campaign for Homeless People and Shelter Trading Limited.  This may be via:

  • Any paper forms you fill out
  • Verbal data collection
  • Forms via our website, or online surveys
  • Communication via web chat or social media
  • Photographs, video or audio recordings.

References to 'we' or 'us' are to Shelter, The National Campaign for Homeless People and Shelter Trading Limited, registered charity no: 263710 (England & Wales); SC002327 (Scotland) of 88 Old Street, London EC1V 9HU.

If you have any questions, please telephone our Supporter Helpdesk on 0300 330 1234, or contact us.

We regularly check this notice to ensure we provide you with the most up-to-date information regarding our data processing activities.  We strongly advise you to read this page from time to time to ensure you are happy with any changes that might be made.

This privacy policy was last updated in February 2017.

Why we collect your data

We only collect personal details needed to fulfil the service you expect from Shelter.  Depending on the service you receive, the information required may include:

  • The personal details required to allow Shelter to provide you with advice, support or legal services that you have requested or been referred to.  This may cover contact information, employment and financial details, family, lifestyle and social circumstances etc.
  • Recording of personal details shared during conversations with our National Helpline.
  • Personal details needed for the administration of your booked training course.
  • Data required to process a purchase of a Shelter publication.
  • Data needed to record and contact you regarding payments you make to Shelter.
  • Administration of the service Shelter is providing to you.
  • Contact details to allow communication with you regarding Shelter fundraising and campaigns.
  • Data for job applications or volunteer placements.
  • Participation in surveys and research (although this is voluntary).
  • Gift Aid information for any donation you make to Shelter.
  • Information to improve Shelter services and user experiences.

Using your personal data

If you are receiving advice, guidance or support from us, we will need to process your data because of your specific relationship with us.

We will keep all your case information – including notes, letters and information given to us about you – in a confidential record that is specific to you. We use a customer relationship management system (CRM) to support our advice, guidance and support.  This means that we can keep the information you provide us, so we are able to see the history and relevant details of your case(s). This ensures that we provide appropriate and accurate advice or support.  We take information security very seriously. No one is allowed access to our system or files unless they need this in order to provide the service to you or one of the other purpose discussed in this notice.

When you call our National Helpline for advice, your call is recorded.  This is used for training purposes, quality assurance, complaint investigations and to make further improvements to the service we provide to you.  You are informed of the recording before any data collection occurs.

In order to make sure that our services meet a high standard of quality, client files are sometimes checked by our quality assurance staff. Files may also be checked by external auditors if the work we do is funded by another organisation, such as a local authority or the Legal Aid agency. All auditors are bound by confidentiality policies.

We may use your data for statistical reports.  These statistics will not include any information that could be used to identify any individual.

We will only process your data for the following purposes with your consent:

  • Communications about our charitable purpose, campaigns and fundraising.
  • Marketing purposes.
  • Shelter service questionnaires.
  • In house research questionnaires.
  • Informing you about products and services provided by Shelter.

We use Microsoft Office 365 and Azure products, which are multi-tenant cloud services, for our internal office use. This means that internal documents and information which are generated by Shelter are stored in cloud services which are hosted within the European Economic Area (EEA).

Retention of your data

Whatever your relationship with us, we will only store your information for a specific amount of time.  This may depend on a law or regulations that the information falls under such as financial regulations, Limitations Act, Health and Safety regulation etc., or any contractual obligation we might have – such as with government contracts or if we have a business case, such as with research data.  For business case data, we will anonymize the data so no individual is identifiable.  Once the retention period has expired, the information will be confidentially disposed or permanently deleted.

Disclosure of your personal data

We will not, without your consent, supply any of your personal data to any third party – except where:

  • The transfer is to a secure data processor, which carries out data processing operations on our behalf.
  • We are required to do so by law enforcement or regulatory bodies where this is required or allowed under the relevant legislation.

If there is a situation where we are asked to share your data with other support services, funders or third-party survey providers, we will make sure you are informed and we will obtain your consent to share your data at the time of data collection.  We will make sure your details are safe, secure and only used for the limited purpose you have provided them to us.

We will never share or sell your personal data to a third-party organization for marketing, fundraising or campaigning purposes.

Use of data processors

We may use a third-party company to manage mailing for fundraising appeals, campaigns, conduct research surveys or storage of your personal information on our behalf.  We actively screen these companies to maximise the protection of your privacy and security.  They are only permitted to use the data in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998, under strict instructions from Shelter.

Fundraising/campaigning/direct marketing

We would love to keep you up to date with our fundraising, marketing and campaign activity.  We will obtain your consent to contact you by email, phone or text.  We may supplement or add to the data we hold about you with information that is either from publicly available sources, geodemographic data or from organisations you have permitted to disclose such information. This allows us to assess the accuracy and improve upon the data we hold, in order to send you the information and fundraising appeals we believe you may be interested in.

We will never share or sell your personal data to a third-party organisation for their marketing, fundraising or campaigning purposes.

If you would like to change your consent, update your details or unsubscribe from our communications at any point, you can do this by contacting our Supporter Helpdesk on one of the following:

  • By email:
  • By post: Shelter Supporter Helpdesk, PO Box 1477, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 4YQ
  • By telephone: on 0300 330 123 (local rate number)

Any electronic communication will have a link to unsubscribe from future electronic communications, so you can manage your own consent.

If you make any changes to your consent, we will update your record as soon as we possibly can.  If you tell us you do not wish to receive marketing, fundraising or campaign communications, you may still receive transactional and service-based communications confirming and servicing other relationships you have with us.

Applying for a Shelter job

When you apply for a job with Shelter, your personal data will be collated in order to monitor the progression of your application, and monitor the effectiveness of the recruitment process through the statistics collected.  Where we need to share your data – such as gathering references, obtaining a Disclosure and Barring Services/Disclosure Scotland check (depends on the role) or a prison clearance (depends on the role) – you will be informed beforehand, unless the disclosure is required by law.  These checks are only done after a position has been offered only to the successful candidate.  On the application form, you are asked to complete the referee details and can tick permission to contact referee. If tick yes, once offered a role, we will automatically send out reference requests.  If tick no, we will contact successful candidate for permission first.

Personal data about unsuccessful applicants are held for 12 months after the recruitment exercise is complete for that particular vacancy.  Applicants can ask us to remove your data before this time if you do not want us to hold it.  If we feel there is another suitable vacancy available, we will contact the applicant prior to sharing your application details with the relevant manager.

Once you have taken up employment with Shelter, we will compile a file relating to your employment. The information contained in this will be kept secure and will only be used for purposes directly relevant to your employment. Once your employment with Shelter has ended, we will retain the file in accordance with the requirements of our retention schedule and then delete it from our files.

Security of your personal data

We use technical and organisational precautions to prevent the loss, misuse or alteration of your personal data.


A cookie is a small data file that is downloaded from a website to your computer, to make the site easier to use in a number of ways. For example, it may store details that you submit on the site, such as your personal settings, your location, or what you have in a shopping cart etc., so you don’t need to enter information more than once.

Using cookies does not allow us to identify users personally; we will only store information that you've specifically given us permission for.

Our website uses a small number of cookies to give us a better overall picture of how people interact with the site, and how we can improve our services to our clients and supporters. The information we gather through this process is completely anonymous, and visitors to the site cannot be identified.

We use some tools on our pages from social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook. Any information used via these tools is not shown to us, and we don't store any information from them. Please refer to each site's own privacy policies for more information.

Storing information during your visit

At certain points when you’re on the Shelter website, you may submit information that you want the site to remember during your visit. For example, when you add something to your shopping cart, then continue to browse on other pages – or when you input your email address and this is passed through to another page.

This information is only stored in a cookie during the time you're on our site. We will only store it elsewhere when you give us permission to do so (such as creating an account on our shop, or submitting a campaigning action), and this will be done via our secure systems.

Controlling and deleting cookies on your computer

All browsers allow you to manage which cookies you accept, reject and delete. You can usually find these controls under the ‘Preferences’ or ‘Tools’ menu. You can find more detail about individual browser settings at About Cookies. 

If you choose not to accept cookies from our website, some sections will not work properly.

Your rights

You have the right under the Data Protection Act to know what information we hold about you and to ask, in writing, to see your records.

We will supply any information you ask for that we hold about you as soon as possible, but this may take up to 40 days.  We will not charge you for this.  You will be asked for proof of identity as the person dealing with your request may not be the staff member you have met before.  We need to be sure we are only releasing your personal data to you.

This is called a data subject access and can be done via:

Updating your information

If you believe that any of the personal information held or processed by us is incorrect then please contact us via:

We will correct it as soon as we possibly can.

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