When Shelter Cymru began in 1981 there was little or no specialist housing advice available to people in Wales and the problems of homelessness were largely overlooked or not fully acknowledged.
Shelter was founded in England in 1966 by a group of charities in response to what was seen as the growing but overlooked problem of homelessness.
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.
Shelter Cymru (then operating as Welsh Housing Aid) was set up in 1981 as part of Shelter, but became an independent charity in 1986, and has responded to and influenced Welsh housing issues ever since.
Since our foundation, despite Britain undergoing a long period of affluence and economic growth, housing need and homelessness has continued. Complacency has allowed the vital issue of people and homes to slip down public and political agendas.
More than three decades of constant lobbying have persuaded governments into making key changes to policy and legislation, and we have celebrated some landmark achievements in recent years. These include influencing the Housing Act (Wales) 2014 with a commitment to end family homelessness by 2019 and a new citizen centred approach in the delivery of homelessness services.
Still work to be done
Housing is the key factor determining a person’s health, well-being, and prospects in life. In the past three decades, Shelter Cymru has been working to help as many people as possible who are living in bad housing or with no home at all, but there is still much to be done..
The slums of the 1960s are gone, but the housing crisis still exists. Many tenants renting in the private sector still have limited security of tenure and very little protection from rogue landlords and illegal fees from letting agents. Shelter Cymru has achieved great things in its history, but our work won’t stop until there’s a home for everyone.