“The Swinging Sixties are the stuff of legend. But while some never had it so good, three million people were living in slums. Shelter was born out of the belief that this appalling injustice must be put right.”
In autumn 1966 12 million people – a quarter of the British population at the time – tuned into to watch Cathy Come Home, a television play directed by Ken Loach. The public’s eyes were opened to the horrific conditions some families were living in. Within weeks Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity, was born.
Last weekend Cathy Come Home was broadcast again on BBC4. Its impact was no less great for being 50 years old. As Shelter CEO Campbell Robb said in his Guardian comment piece, “a new generation of Cathys have nowhere to call home.”
Earlier this year we worked with Shelter to develop content for its 50th anniversary communications.
- We reviewed 50 years of archive material to curate material for the Shelter at 50 site.
- We drafted the Shelter Story, an historical narrative for an anniversary booklet distributed at a 50th anniversary summer reception and exhibition.
- We visited Nick Hedges, whose powerful photography documented life in slums around Britain to hear his reflections on the early days of Shelter.
- We were inspired by young women like Renee and moved by the experiences of Felicia, as we captured stories of those supported by Shelter today.
We are lucky at Mile 91 to work with some truly remarkable organisations who inspire us every day, but there was something particularly powerful about this project. I think intensively absorbing the detail of 50 years of need, activism, commitment and impact really shone a spotlight on how hard Shelter has worked to change laws and keep housing top of the political agenda. With a 33% increase in homelessness in England since 2010 they are, sadly, needed more than ever before.
At their anniversary event in June, Shelter asked everyone to make a pledge. We promised to keep sharing the story of Shelter and the story of those who do not have a place to call home. Do take a look at their 50th anniversary site and look out for events near you.