Shelter, National Campaign for Homeless People Limited registered in England 263710 and Scotland SC002327 was founded 50 years ago as a result of the fall out from the 1966 TV documentary ‘Cathy Come Home’.
Shelters current aspirations are stated on their web site ‘We strive every day to give people the help they need, and we campaign relentlessly to achieve our vision of a safe, secure, affordable home for everyone.’
In the short term Shelter is suffering from some self inflicted fallout following the Grenfell tower block conflagration and political posturing.
- Sir Derek Myers, Shelter’s chairman together with fellow board member Tony Rice resigned from the charity on 23rd June 2017. Sir Derek Myers is the former Kensington & Chelsea RBC, and Hammersmith & Fulham LBC chief executive until 2015.
- Tony Rice is the chairman of Xerxes Equity which owns Omnis Exteriors. This company was a fundraising charity partner for Shelter with permission to use their logo.
- In a Guardian report ‘Shelter rejected accusations that it had been too timid in its response to the disaster, saying that it had prioritised the provision of housing and legal advice to Grenfell residents in the wake of the fire’ at Grenfell Tower.
- Jon Kenworthy former vice-chair of Shelter said that ‘Myers had been vetted stringently before being appointed to the role.’ .. “The current trustee board reflects the needs of the charity, with its members having professional backgrounds and experience in charities, finance and accountancy, HR, fundraising, business, law, property, media and campaigning and public policy, including housing,”
Looking back at Shelter
- If the remit has been to ‘campaign relentlessly’ to make everyone safe and secure how are they doing on behalf of those suffering from public sector housing indifference?
- With an annual expenditure of £60 million or about a £1 per head of the UK population are they delivering value for money? They certainly have lots of individual projects.
- Shelter had £18m in cash and investments at the end of March 2016 but with 1115 staff this may be a necessary cushion.
- In the 12 months to end March 2016 Shelter lost 7 trustees to ‘retirement’ making 50% or 9 in 15 months.
- A quote from the history of Shelter at 50 ‘Our commitment is that we will never shy away from telling tough stories, or from uniting and mobilising the public, as our founders mobilised the public in the 1960s. Shelter was founded on a will to address a deep injustice in society…..’
- How goes the war on the grim reality of slum housing?
The febrile climate of political incompetence, media hype, commercial patronage and lost personal values needs to stir up more than just this one charity.
UK housing public and private sector is at odds with a fair and equitable society. If Shelter are to be part of the solutions, 50 years on from their foundation, they need some effective leadership, conviction and clarity of purpose.
There seems to be little or no grass roots tenant representation on Shelter’s board of trustees but an ample number of ‘professionals’.