Shelter Scotland has committed to a 10-year strategy designed to transform not just the charity, but the housing system and the country. These ambitious goals are grounded in evidence, backed by actions and clear measures of success to which it – and the wider system – can be held to account.


There are five good reasons why this is an outstanding example of sustainable strategy.


1. It’s based on evidence and insight. Shelter Scotland and its priorities are firmly rooted in the unarguable experience of the communities it works with.

2. It’s ambitious – Shelter Scotland want to make structural change to the housing system. This will take time, so the charity has made a long-term (10-year) commitment to it. This sends a clear signal to communities, colleagues, policy makers, partners and others what they can expect from Shelter Scotland. At the same time, the urgency of the housing emergency is made inescapably clear.

The housing emergency


 3. There’s a clear statement of purpose and direction – ‘We exist to defend the right to a safe home.’ The three-year plan provides for learning and adaptation along the way, for example the current plan (available via the link below) reflects honestly on lessons learnt in the first three years. Other things may change over the 10 years of the strategy, but Shelter Scotland’s single-minded focus won’t.

Driving change – from purpose to impact


Last year Shelter Scotland signed up to become a Lasting Difference symbol holder because, as Gillian Reid-McKee (Assistant Director of Operations) says,

“It keeps us focused on our organisational purpose and ensures that is our north star. The most important element has been to challenge ourselves to only deliver what meets our purpose.”

4. It celebrates progress and shares ownership – This isn’t just about the part the charity has played (and will play) in progress, but about what Scotland has done (and must still do) to help improve things for people, policies and properties. Importantly, the strategy provides a clear call to action so that anyone reading the strategy knows that they have a role to play.

  5. It’s focused and brave – Shelter Scotland’s goals for the next three years are those where it believes it can make the biggest difference to its overall aim. This takes bravery, committing to the organisation’s own transformation, shifting direction from what it does for people to what it can do with individuals and communities.

The strategic shift

They call this ‘people powered change’, where every story counts and each interaction with people tells them something about the system:

  • What brought people to Shelter Scotland?
  • What needs to change?
  • What would better look like?
  • Who needs to be involved?



As we identify in Shine a Light, the guide to system capacity and leadership, collecting evidence helps to identify issues and amplify voices. That’s the most effective way to influence system change. That doesn’t mean it’s simple, as Gill reflects:

“This new approach is still a journey of hearts and minds, bringing people with us. It’s not always easy to refocus efforts upstream when the devastating impact on people is present in every interaction. Systemic change takes time, so we keep it in focus by shining a light on what we can all do to improve things right now – for individuals, with communities and on policy, practice and culture. That’s why we say, ‘The Fight for Home starts here.’”



The Fight for Home starts here:

Find out more about the strategy here

Download Shine a Light here

Become a Lasting Difference Symbol holder here: