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Exhibition: Shelter at 50

What does home me to you? To me it means SANCTUARY!

The charity Shelter opened its door in 1966, fifty years ago to support, offer advice and legal services to help individuals and families who were experiencing poor housing and homelessness.

To mark its half centenary it hosted a photographic exhibition by Nick Hedges ‘Exposing the Slums of the Sixites’ at the Custard Factory in Digbeth, Birmingham. It was a collection of imagery that documents a dimmer period of the 60’s and 70’s, another side of Britain, with its deprivation, rogue landlords, poor housing with damp conditions, no sanitation, hot running water, no electricity or gas. It shows streets and houses in cities across the country such as Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool and the nations capital. The emotive and thought provoking scenes capture not only the lack of support, but also give a closer insight into the ignored families trying to exist living on the breadline in disgusting living conditions. Homes appear drastically neglected and uncared for by the owners with landlords more than happy to take money from these vulnerable tenants. For a few their situation was so dire they took sleeping tablets to get to sleep and many lived in multi occupancy residencies where to cook or take a bath took several hours as they used one pot to heat up the water.

The desolate landscapes have now gone, but there are families and individuals still in need of assistance due to loss of employment, family break ups, addiction, mental health issues or the changes in the benefit system such as the bedroom tax, changes to social housing tenancies and a housing shortage. These are several of the factors that are currently causing homelessness in British society today and Shelter’s is one of the organisations that keeps this social issue in the fore front of the publics eyes and politicians via their campaigning and fund raising to give much needed support and advice for today’s vulnerable.

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