The event looked back at 50 years of homelessness policy, examined contemporary concerns, and looked towards the challenges on the horizon in the UK, Europe and from a global perspective.

In 1966 Shelter was established in order to speak for the millions of ‘hidden homeless’ people in the UK and in 1981 Shelter Cymru began as Welsh Housing Aid, in response to the lack of specialist housing advice  for people in Wales. Both organisations have achieved a great deal, playing pivotal roles in the endeavor to ensure there’s a safe, secure, affordable home for everyone.

It was also in 1966 that the School of Geography and Planning at Cardiff University was established and since its inception, housing and homelessness has been a key research priority with scholars often working collaboratively with Shelter and Shelter Cymru to bring about positive changes for homeless people.

This anniversary event aimed to take the long view on homelessness in Great Britain. The event looked back at 50 years of homelessness policy, examined contemporary concerns, and looked towards the challenges on the horizon in the UK, Europe and from a global perspective.

The event also featured a photographic exhibition of street homelessness across the globe entitled ‘under the bridge’ by world-renowned and Cardiff-born photographer Andrew McNeill.

Event programme

The event was split into afternoon and evening sessions, with delegates able to attend both or just one session.

Welcome lunch

12.30 – 13.30   Lunch and galley viewing (Andrew McNeill’s photographic study of homeless across the globe)

Afternoon Event

The afternoon session began with a plenary lecture by Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick. She delievered a critical reflection on 50 years of homelessness policy in Great Britain. This policy review is sponsored by the International Journal of Housing Policy. Delegates could then choose to attend one of three parallel sessions focusing on contemporary homelessness issues. Confirmed afternoon speakers include Dr. Sarah Johnson, Adrian Berry, Dr. Nicholas Pleace, Dr. Peter Mackie and Chris Rushton.

13.30 – 13.45   Introduction and welcome

13.45 – 14.30   50 years since Cathy Come Home: critical reflections on GB homelessness policy, Suzanne Fitzpatrick (Heriot Watt University)

14.30 – 16.00   Parallel sessions: Contemporary homelessness issues

Session 1: Migration and housing rights

  • The reconnection of rough sleepers within the UK, Dr. Sarah Johnsen (Heriot Watt University)
  • The housing rights of non-UK nationals, Adrian Berry (Garden Court Chambers)

Session 2: Homelessness prevention and the cost of homelessness

  • The financial cost of single homelessness in the UK, Dr. Nicholas Pleace (York University)
  • Homelessness prevention: developments and dilemmas in GB, Dr. Peter Mackie (Cardiff University)

Session 3: Listening to Wales’ most vulnerable people

  • Documentary Film makers Tracy Harris and Chris Rushton spent 5 years making films with homeless people. With powerful film clips Tracy and Chris will offer an independent and heart felt view of their experience of building relationships and telling the stories of vulnerable people whose voices rarely get heard in discussions about homelessness.

16.00 – 17.00   Drinks, snacks and gallery viewing (Andrew McNeill will also be introducing his photographic study of homeless across the globe)


Evening Event

The evening session looked forwards towards the challenges on the horizon, with plenary speakers discussing key challenges and policy priorities across Great Britain, Europe and globally.

17.00 – 17.10   Evening welcome

17.10 – 17.20   50 years of housing and welfare research at the School of Geography and Planning, Professor Kevin Morgan (Cardiff University)

17.20 – 18.20    Priorities for GB homelessness policy, Kate Webb (Shelter), Adam Lang (Shelter Scotland), John Puzey (Shelter Cymru)

18.20 – 18.40   A European perspective on homelessness policy priorities, Mike Allen (Focus Ireland and FEANTSA)

18.40 – 19.00   International perspectives on homelessness policy priorities, Ian Brady (Depaul International)

19.00 – 19.30   Q&A