I had the privilege of sponsoring Shelter Scotland’s 50th Anniversary reception on Tuesday 11th September 2018. I was delighted to see MSPs from across the political spectrum, and speakers included the First Minister. We were also lucky to be joined by Linda McDonald who movingly spoke about her own experience of homelessness and her positive association with Shelter Scotland.
When I met with Shelter Scotland before the event, they emphasised that marking 50 years of campaigning isn’t for them a cause for celebration. Until there is a home for everyone, Shelter Scotland won’t rest, and that is a fight that very much continues.
People who rent, young people, people on low incomes and families with young children are most likely to live in homes that don’t meet this standard and my casework provides evidence of this every day, with housing costs being a huge worry to many of my constituents.
There are not enough homes for everyone, so a key priority for Shelter Scotland is for more homes to be built, and this has to include a strong housing safety net to catch people when they fall into crisis. To get this right, we can’t simply talk about housing in numbers, because we must make sure that homes are within reach of those who most need them. It’s easy to call for better housing standards, but how those standards are delivered on the ground remains challenging. Better legal protection is essential, but how will that empower people to insist on their housing rights being met?
There have been many successes over the years: from scrapping right to buy so that there is good, social and council housing available for the many; to successful campaigns against illegal evictions in the private sector; and reclaiming letting agent fees. The good, positive difference Shelter Scotland has made to our society is immeasurable.