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Our privacy policy

About this policy

Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness through our advice, support and legal services. We campaign to make sure that one day, no one will have to turn to us for help.

As part of our work, we collect and process personal data about the people who interact with us. The kind of data we collect depends on how people use our services, whether that’s getting advice, supporting our campaigns, making donations, booking training courses or volunteering.

We only collect the bare minimum we need to offer our services and do our work. We are completely committed to protecting your data and privacy and pride ourselves on taking great care to ensure it stays completely safe.

We promise we’ll never share or sell your personal data to a third-party organisation for marketing, fundraising or campaigning purposes.

This notice outlines what data we collect, how we may use it, how we protect your data and your rights, and how you can exercise those rights.

References to 'we' or 'us' are to:

  • Shelter, the National Campaign for Homeless People Limited (including Shelter Scotland, which forms part of Shelter), company number 01038133, registered charity numbers 263710 (England and Wales) and SC002327 (Scotland), of 88 Old Street, London, EC1V 9HU, and

  • Shelter Trading Limited, company number 02573404, of 88 Old Street, London, EC1V 9HU

We regularly check this notice to make sure we’re giving you with the most up-to-date information available about how we’re processing our data. We recommend you re-read this page from time to time to make sure you’re happy with any changes that might be made.

While we’ve tried to make our privacy policy as comprehensive as possible, it doesn’t include an exhaustive list of every aspect of how we collect and use personal information. If you need any further information or explanation though, we’re happy to help.

If you have any questions about this policy, please contact us using the details in the ‘Contact us' section below.

This privacy policy was last updated in June 2024.

Why we collect your data

We collect and process personal data about the people who interact with us. The kind of data we collect depends on someone’s needs, and how they’re using our services. For instance, we might collect data to communicate with someone and send requested information to them, to help us administer campaigns and donations, or to improve our services.

We collect the minimum of data required to provide our services and do our work. We’re completely committed to protecting your data and privacy, and we pride ourselves on taking great care to ensure it stays completely safe.

Some of the reasons we might collect your data include:

  • to provide you with advice, support or legal services that you have requested or been referred to

  • to record personal details shared during conversations with our national helpline or Supporter Helpdesk

  • to process personal details required for the administration of your booked training course

  • to process a purchase of a Shelter publication

  • to record and contact you regarding payments you make to Shelter

  • to administer services Shelter is providing to you

  • to communicate with you regarding Shelter’s work, fundraising, and campaigning activities

  • to process donations and administer Gift Aid information for any donation you make to Shelter

  • to process a purchase via one of our charity shops or online shop

  • to provide you with information about and to administer events, including mass participation events, concerts, and festivals

  • to administer and send you information about our legacy programme

  • to send you gaming products for our own internal administrative purposes, and to keep a record of your relationship with us

  • to manage your communication preferences

  • to process job applications or volunteer placements

  • to conduct surveys, research and gather feedback

  • to obtain information to improve Shelter’s services and user experiences

  • to address and resolve complaints about Shelter and our services

  • to carry out research to find out more information about our supporters’ and prospective supporters’ backgrounds and interests

  • to comply with applicable laws and regulations, and requests from statutory agencies

  • to comply with our contractual obligations to our funders

Information we collect

Depending on how you use our services, the types of information we collect from you might include:

  • your full name and date of birth

  • contact details – including your postal address, telephone number(s), and email address

  • National Insurance number

  • details of your case when providing you with housing advice or services

  • your bank details

  • records of your correspondence and engagement with us

  • donation history and Gift Aid details

  • information you may enter on the Shelter website

  • photographs, video or audio recordings

  • occupation

  • biographical information

  • other information you share with us

This information may be collected via:

  • any paper forms you complete

  • telephone, webchat or email conversations, or face-to-face interactions

  • digital forms completed via our website, or online surveys

  • third-party companies and websites such as JustGiving

  • publicly available sources

  • communication via social media

We sometimes also collect sensitive, personal data about individuals. This includes information about health, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, political and philosophical beliefs, and criminal records. We will normally only record this data where we have your explicit consent, unless we are permitted to do so in other circumstances under data protection law. For example, we may make a record that a person is in a vulnerable circumstance to comply with requirements under charity law and the Code of Fundraising Practice, to ensure that we do not send fundraising communications to them.

Where we are providing you with advice or support services, we may record your sensitive personal data if this is necessary for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims, or if it is in the substantial public interest because we would not be able to provide our services without doing so.

Using your personal data

Shelter Services

If you are receiving advice or support from us, or if someone else has referred you to us for such a service, we will need to process your data because of your specific relationship with us.

We will keep all your relevant personal information – including notes, letters, emails and information given to us about you – in a confidential record that is specific to you. We use an electronic case management system (customer relationship management system (CRM) or other electronic system, depending on the service) as well as paper records to support our advice, guidance and support provision. This means that we can keep the information you provide us, so we are able to see the history and relevant details of your case(s). This ensures that we provide appropriate and accurate advice or support. We take information security very seriously. No one is allowed access to our system or files unless they need this to provide the service to you, or for one of the other purposes discussed in this notice.

We may need to disclose and discuss your personal information to third party individuals or organisations if this is necessary to help resolve your issue. Examples include:

  • your landlord

  • council housing, social services and Housing Benefits teams

  • the DWP/Job Centre or HMRC

  • your GP or medical professionals

  • lenders and creditors

  • legal representatives or advisers

  • the court

We will discuss this with you as we go along, and will only act with your express consent unless one of the other legal bases in data protection legislation applies.

When you call our national helpline for advice, your call is recorded. This is used for training purposes, quality assurance, complaint investigations, and to make further improvements to the service we provide to you. You are informed of the recording before any data collection occurs.

To ensure that our services meet a high standard of quality, client files are sometimes checked by our quality assurance staff. Files may also be checked by external auditors if the work we do is funded by another organisation, such as a local authority or the Legal Aid agency. All auditors are bound by confidentiality policies.

Where our funders require it as a condition of our contract with them, we may use your data in reports to them. Typically this is so that they can monitor the outcomes of the help we have provided to you, to ensure we are meeting the terms of our contract with them.

We may use your data for general statistical reports. These statistics will not include any information that could be used to identify any individual.

Fundraising/campaigning/direct marketing

We would love to keep you up to date with our fundraising, marketing and campaign activity.

We use a range of marketing activities and channels to contact our supporters – including our website, face-to-face fundraising, direct mail, SMS/text campaigns, email, and telephone.

We will obtain your consent to contact you by email and text message for marketing purposes. We will also obtain consent from all new supporters (who sign up after 25 May 2018) to make marketing calls.

We will send you marketing by post, on the basis of it being within our legitimate interests to do so, unless you opt out. See section 10 (‘Our legal basis for processing data’) for more information about our use of legitimate interests. We will also contact existing supporters by phone on this basis (unless they are registered with the Telephone Preference Service or have opted out of receiving marketing communications from Shelter).

We send the following marketing materials:

  1. Updates about Shelter’s work – including newsletters, magazines, and other publications informing you about our work

  2. Campaigns – information about our campaigning activities both in England and Scotland, including how you can support such campaigns, (for example by lobbying influential figures or signing a petition), and updates about the progress of our campaigns

  3. Appeals and fundraising activities – including requests for donations, information about how you can leave us a gift in your will, how you can raise money on our behalf, attend or take part in a fundraising event, communications relating to our lottery and raffles, and updates on the impact that your fundraising activities have had on our work

  4. Events – including details of our challenges, such as Vertical Rush or other sponsored runs and activities, as well as other events such as concerts and comedy gigs in aid of Shelter. Please note that if you sign up for a Shelter event, we will also send you administrative communications about how you can take part. On occasion, we will also send you a reminder about the same event in future years, in case you want to participate in it again

  5. Shop products – including information about products offered by our online shop or charity shops

  6. Volunteering – information about how you can help support Shelter by giving up your time or using your influence to progress our aims, along with updates on the impact of your work

  7. Professional services – including details of the professional services that Shelter offers, such as training and publications.

We will never share or sell your personal data to a third-party organisation for its marketing, fundraising or campaigning purposes.

You can withdraw your consent, unsubscribe from or update your marketing preferences at any point using the details in the ‘Contact us’ section below.

Any electronic communications, such as emails, will have a link to unsubscribe from future electronic communications, so you can manage your own communication preferences.

If you make any changes to your consent, we will update your record without undue delay and at the latest within one month of receipt. It may take 60 days for our systems to update and stop any postal communications from being sent to you. Email communications will, however, be stopped immediately. If you tell us you do not wish to receive marketing, fundraising or campaign communications, you may still receive transactional and service-based communications confirming and servicing other relationships you have with us (as described below). You can also opt out of receiving marketing communications from us by signing up to the Fundraising Preference Service.

Where possible, we cleanse and remove out of date data by checking it against publicly available records such as deceased records. This helps us to improve the delivery rate of our mailings and minimise wasted expenditure.

Administrative communications to supporters

In addition to the fundraising and marketing communications that you receive from Shelter, we will also communicate with you by post, telephone, and email in relation to administrative and transactional matters. For example, we will call you after you have set up a Direct Debit to confirm your details, and upon cancellation. There may also be other occasions where we need to contact you about your donation – for example, if there is a problem with a payment or in relation to your gift aid declaration.

On occasion, we will also contact you about an event that you have signed up to participate in, – for example – to check that fundraising pages have been set up and to provide any other necessary information.

As mentioned above, we may still need to communicate with you for administrative purposes even if you have opted out of marketing communications from us.

Research and analysis

Shelter values the unique insights from people who have used our services bring to our work. We offer service user involvement (SUI) opportunities where you can help shape the design and delivery of Shelter’s services, and inform the way that Shelter works. In addition, Shelter conducts research with members of the public to understand the housing emergency and who is most affected.

If you consent to be contacted, we may invite you to participate in research or SUI activities. This includes surveys, focus groups, interviews, and other research methods. This could be done over the phone, via post, online or face-to-face, depending on the project.

External agencies may be used so that we can maximise our resources. They will usually be research agencies or individual freelancers, depending on the scope of the project. They will only contact you on our instruction and will never use your details for anything other than research or SUI activities.

At the point of being invited to take part in research or SUI activities, you can accept or decline. If you change your mind about being contacted regarding research or SUI activities in the future, you can opt out by telling the person contacting you or by contacting us at

Supporter research

We may use profiling and database segmentation techniques to analyse your personal information and create a profile of your interests, preferences, and ability to donate. This allows us to ensure communications are relevant and timely to provide an improved experience for our supporters. It also helps us understand the background of our supporters so that we can make appropriate requests to people who may be able to increase their donations or leave a gift in their will. This enables us to raise funds quickly and in the most cost-effective way.

Our philanthropy team uses information that is already in the public domain (information that has been published in print or online) to identify high net-worth individuals who may be interested in supporting our work with a major gift. These publicly available sources of information include; Companies House, the electoral register, the phone book, the Charity Commission’s Register of Charities, Who’s Who, LinkedIn, company annual reports, and articles in newspapers and magazines. We do not use publicly available sources which we consider would be intrusive for this purpose, such as Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter) JustGiving, the Land Registry, online planning applications, or any websites and companies that fall into this category. We also carry out research to identify existing supporters who may be able to join our major donor programme. This is based both on publicly available information, and information our supporters have given us voluntarily (e.g. where a person lives, who they bank with, what their occupation is and their age.)

Under data protection legislation, you have the right to object to your data being processed in this way. If you wish to opt out of being identified as a high net-worth individual, don't hesitate to contact our philanthropy team at

We are also legally required to carry out checks on individuals who give us large donations to comply with our duties under anti-money laundering legislation and the prevention of fraud.

Shelter Trading

When you purchase an item from one of our charity shops or our online shop, or make a donation, we will collect certain information from you – including your name, address, phone number, email address, Gift Aid information, marketing preferences, and payment details – so that we can process your purchase or donation, or contact you if we have any queries regarding your purchase, or donation.

Where you have purchased an item from our shops we may contact you again about similar products or services. We will always give you the opportunity to opt out of receiving further communications of this nature.

When you provide Shelter Trading (Shelter’s wholly owned trading subsidiary) with your data, it is held and processed by Shelter Trading and Shelter. Depending upon the communication preferences you select when registering your details, we may then also contact you for fundraising and marketing purposes, about the activities listed in the fundraising and marketing communications section of this policy.

Social media/digital

You may receive targeted advertisements through our use of social media audience tools. This depends on your settings or the privacy policies for social media platforms - like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Toc, Snapchat, and Google. For example, Facebook’s ‘Custom’ and ‘Lookalike’ Audiences’ programmes enable us to display adverts to our existing supporters or other people who have similar interests or characteristics.

We may provide your data (including your name and email address) to the social media platforms. This is to check if you have an account and to create a ‘lookalike’ audience. Our adverts may then appear when you use the social media platform. We only work with social media platforms that provide a facility for secure and encrypted upload of data, and immediately delete any records not matching with their own user base.

For more information, or to manage your social media ad preferences, please see:

When we engage with Facebook to identify you on their platform and provide you with our adverts, we are joint controllers of your personal information with Facebook. Our agreement with Facebook sets out our responsibilities to you – for example, we are responsible for informing you about this activity. Both we and Facebook are responsible for keeping your information secure. You can exercise your privacy rights against each of us individually.

If you do not want us to use your data for social media advertising, contact us to opt out:
0300 330 1234 (local rate number)
Shelter Support Helpdesk, PO Box 1477, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 4YQ

If you have asked us not to use your information for targeted social advertising, you may still see adverts related to us. This is because the social media platform or advertising network may hold information about you (such as your age and location, or websites you have visited) that wasn't provided by us.

Applying for a Shelter job

When you apply for a job with us, your personal data will be collated to monitor the progression of your application, and the effectiveness of the recruitment process through the statistics collected. Where we need to share your data – such as for gathering references, obtaining a Disclosure and Barring Services/Disclosure Scotland check (depends on the role), or a prison clearance (depends on the role) – you will be informed beforehand, unless the disclosure is required by law.

These checks are only done after a position has been offered only to the successful candidate. On the application form, you are asked to complete the referee details, and can tick permission to contact referee. If tick yes, once offered a role, we will automatically send out reference requests. If you tick no, we will contact successful candidates for permission first.

Personal data about unsuccessful applicants are held for 12 months after the recruitment exercise is complete for that vacancy. You, as an applicant, can ask us to remove your data before this time if you do not want us to hold it. If we feel there is another suitable vacancy available, we will contact the applicant prior to sharing your application details with the relevant manager.

Once you have taken up employment with Shelter, we will compile a file relating to your employment. The information contained in this will be kept secure and will only be used for purposes directly relevant to your employment. Once your employment with us has ended, we will retain the file in accordance with the requirements of our retention schedule and then delete it from our files.

Professional contacts

We may collect data about professional contacts and partners with whom we work, or to whom we provide professional services – such as training or publications. Personal data collected in this way will be processed in accordance with data protection legislation and this policy.

We may send our professional partners information and updates about our work (primarily by email). Such contacts can opt out of receiving this information at any time.

We maintain a record of information related to MPs and other holders of public office, to enable us to undertake our campaigning activity in furtherance of our charitable aims. This will include keeping a record of contact details such as address, telephone number and email address as well as publicly available voting records and committee and group memberships.

Our legal basis for processing personal data

We need a lawful basis to collect and use your personal data under data protection law. The law allows for six ways to process personal data (and additional ways for sensitive personal data). Four of these are relevant to the types of processing that we carry out. This includes information that is processed on the basis of:

  1. a person’s consent (for example, to send you direct marketing by email or SMS)

  2. a contractual relationship (for example, to provide you with goods or services that you have purchased from us)

  3. processing that is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation (for example to process a Gift Aid declaration, and carrying out due diligence on large donations)

  4. Shelter’s legitimate interests (please see below for more information)

Personal data may be legally collected and used if it is necessary for a legitimate interest of the organisation using the data, if its use is fair and does not adversely impact the rights of the individual concerned.

When we use your personal information, we will always consider if it is fair and balanced to do so and if it is within your reasonable expectations. We will balance your rights and our legitimate interests to ensure that we use your personal information in ways that are not unduly intrusive or unfair. Our legitimate interests include:

  • Charity Governance: including delivery of our charitable purposes, statutory and financial reporting and other regulatory compliance purposes, and intergroup transfers of data between Shelter and Shelter Trading

  • Administration and operational management: including responding to solicited enquires, providing information and Shelter services, research, events management, the administration of volunteers and employment, and recruitment requirements

  • Fundraising and Campaigning: including administering campaigns and donations, and sending direct marketing by post (and in some cases making marketing calls), sending thank you letters, analysis, targeting and segmentation to develop communication strategies, and maintaining communication suppressions.

If you would like more information on our uses of legitimate interests, or to change our use of your personal data in this manner, please get in touch with us using the details in the ‘Contact us’ section below.

Disclosure of your personal data

We will not share any of your personal data with any third party – except where:

  1. the transfer is to a secure data processor, which carries out data processing operations on our behalf (please see section 13 for more information)

  2. we are required to do so by law, for example to law enforcement or regulatory bodies where this is required or allowed under the relevant legislation

  3. we are required to do so because it is a condition of our funding or service provision that we share certain information with the funder or with partnership organisations. We will tell you if this is the case.

  4. it is necessary to protect the vital interests of an individual

  5. we have obtained your consent

We will never share or sell your personal data to a third-party organisation for marketing, fundraising, or campaigning purposes.

Security of your personal data

We use appropriate technical and organisational measures and precautions to protect your personal data and to prevent the loss, misuse or alteration of your personal data.

Unfortunately, the transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure. Although we will do our best to protect your personal data, we cannot guarantee the security of your data transmitted to our website. Once we have received your information, we will use strict procedures and security features to try to prevent unauthorised access.

We encourage you to review the privacy statements of websites you choose to link to from the Shelter website, so that you can understand how those sites collect, use and share your information. We are not responsible for the privacy statements, security, or other content on sites outside of the website.

Use of data processors

We may use a third-party supplier to manage mailings for our; fundraising appeals, campaigns, research surveys and to process your personal information. They also help with the storage of your personal information or conduct profiling on our behalf. They also manage billing and accounting on legal cases and provide some of our advice and support services to you. You can find out more about the suppliers that we use by contacting us using the details in the ‘Contact us’ section below.

We actively screen and monitor these companies to maximise the protection of your privacy and security. They are only permitted to use the data in accordance with relevant data protection legislation, under strict instructions from us, and in accordance with a data processing agreement entered between Shelter and the supplier.

Transfers of data outside of the European Economic Area

We use Microsoft Office 365 and Azure products, which are multi-tenant cloud services, for our internal office use. This means that internal documents and information generated by us are stored in cloud services hosted within the European Economic Area (EEA).

However, in some limited cases, we may use data processors that process and/or store data outside of the EEA – for example, payment processors such as Stripe.

In these cases, we will take reasonable steps to ensure that the recipient implements appropriate measures to protect your information, for example, by entering into a contract that includes prescribed clauses about the use of data and (if the company is based in the United States, signing Standard Contract Clause).

Retention of your data

Whatever your relationship with us, we will only store your information for a specified amount of time, as set out in our internal data retention policy.

The length of time that data will be kept may depend on the reasons for which we are processing the data and on the law or regulations that the information falls under, such as financial regulations, Limitations Act, Health and Safety regulation etc., or any contractual obligation we might have – such as with government contracts or if we have a business case, such as with research data. For business case data, we will anonymise the data so no individual is identifiable.

Subject to the above, we will typically store data relating to donors and people who have taken campaign actions for seven years after their last donation or interaction, and people to whom we provide services to for seven years after completion of those services. Personal data about unsuccessful applicants are held for 12 months after the recruitment exercise is complete for that vacancy.

Once the retention period has expired, the information will be confidentially disposed or permanently deleted, or anonymised.

If you request to receive no further contact from us, we will keep some basic information about you on our suppression list to avoid sending you unwanted materials in the future.

Your rights

You have many rights under data protection legislation. These include:

Right of Access

You have the right to know what information we hold about you and to ask, in writing, to see your records.

We will supply any information you ask for that we hold about you as soon as possible, but this may take up to one calendar month. We will not charge you for this other than in exceptional circumstances. You will be asked for proof of identity as the person dealing with your request may not be the staff member you have met before. We need to be sure we are only releasing your personal data to you.

This is called a data subject access, and can be done by:

Right to be informed

You have the right to be informed how your personal data will be used. This policy, as well as any additional information or notice that is provided to you either at the time you provided your details, or otherwise, is intended to provide you with this information.

Right to withdraw consent

Where we process your data based on your consent (for example, to send you marketing texts or emails), you can withdraw that consent at any time. To do this, or to discuss this right further with us, please contact us using the details in the ‘Contact Us’ section below.

Right to object

You also have a right to object to us processing data where we are relying on it being within our legitimate interests to do so (for example, to send you direct marketing by post). To do this, or to discuss this right further with us, please contact us using the details in the ‘Contact us’ section below.

Right to restrict processing

In certain situations, you have the right to ask for the processing of your personal data to be restricted because there is some disagreement about its accuracy or legitimate usage.

Right of erasure

In some cases, you have the right to be forgotten (i.e. to have your personal data deleted from our database). Where you have requested that we do not send you marketing materials, we will need to keep some limited information to ensure that you are not contacted in the future.

Right of rectification

If you believe our records are inaccurate, you have the right to ask for those records concerning you to be updated. To update your records, please get in touch with us using the details in the ‘Contact Us’ section below.

Right to data portability

Where we are processing your personal data because you have given us your consent to do so, you have the right to request that the data be transferred from one service provider to another.


If you have any complaints about the way in which we have used your data, please get in touch with us using the details in the ‘Contact us’ section below. We would be happy to help and discuss your concerns.

You are also entitled to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Fundraising Regulator, and, where you have been helped by a solicitor, the Legal Ombudsman.

Contact us

If you have any questions about this policy, would like more information, or want to exercise any of the rights set out in the 'Your rights' section above, you can get in touch with us in the following ways:


  2. 0300 330 1234 (local rate number)

  3. Shelter Support Helpdesk, PO Box 1477, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 4YQ