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Our history

Shelter was founded in England in 1966 by the Reverend Bruce Kenrick, who was horrified by the state of the tenements round his Notting Hill parish. The setting up of Shelter Scotland followed in 1968.

Kenrick had formed the Notting Hill Housing Trust three years earlier to provide decent, affordable houses to rent in the area.

Born of squalor

As slums proliferated in the inner cities, homeless families were forced into overcrowded hostels, and notorious landlords like Peter Rachman made the headlines, Kenrick saw the need for a national campaigning body to complement the work of charities providing housing. Shelter was born.

Cathy Come Home

Carol White in Cathy Come Home

1966 was also the year that the BBC screened Ken Loach's film about homelessness, Cathy Come Home. Watched by 12 million people on its first broadcast, the film alerted the public, the media, and the government to the scale of the housing crisis, and Shelter gained many new supporters.

Recent years

Since Shelter's foundation, Britain has undergone a long period of affluence and economic growth. However, complacency has allowed housing to slip down the public and political agendas.

Steps forward

More than four decades of constant lobbying have pressured government into making some key changes to policy and legislation, and Shelter has celebrated some landmark achievements in recent years. These include the ground breaking commitment in Scotland that, by 2012, every homeless person will have the right to a home.

Still work to be done

Housing is now the key factor determining a person's health, well-being, and prospects in life.  In the past 4 decades, Shelter Scotland has been working to help as many people as possible who are living in bad housing or with no home at all, and there is still a lot to be done.  

Because of the loss of nearly 500,000 social homes through the Right to Buy scheme  and a lack of new housing supply, over 157,000 households in Scotland languish on council waiting lists, and there are currently over 10,000 households living in temporary accommodation waiting for a home.

The slums of the 1960s are gone, but the housing crisis still exists. Tenants renting in the private sector still have no security of tenure and very little protection from rogue landlords and illegal fees from letting agents.  Each year more than 45,000 people apply for council assistance through homelessness legislation and this year phonecalls to Shelter Scotland's national advice helpline have soared by over 20% (compared to 2011) - people still need our help.  Shelter Scotland has achieved great things in its history, but our work won't stop until everyone in Britain can access a decent, affordable home.

We have created an interactive timeline showing the history of the housing crisis timeline, with archive photos, video footage and statistics.

Visit Scotland's Housing Crisis timeline