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Cost of living crisis is making housing problems worse for 7 in 10 callers to Shelter’s emergency helpline, as charity warns of surge in homelessness

Posted 10 Nov 2022

Shelter is warning this winter could be one of the toughest yet as it reveals70% of callers to its emergency helpline say the cost of living crisis is making their housing situation worse. 

Advisers on the charity’s emergency helpline warn that as private rents reach record highs, household bills soar and more people fall behind on their housing costs, they are gearing up to answer calls from huge numbers of people facing homelessness this winter.  

In the last three months Shelter’s helpline, which is part-funded by M&S Food, has seen: 

  • Almost 8 in 10(78%) callers are already homeless or at risk of homelessness, this is compared with 7 in 10 (70%) during the same period in 2021 

  • More than 1,000 calls on average are made to the emergency helpline every day, almost 95,000 in total 

One of the reasons Shelter can keep its emergency helpline open 365 days a year is through its longstanding partnership with M&S Food. Five percent of every sale from M&S’s Festive Food on the Move range, including its Christmas sandwiches, goes directly towards the emergency helpline. Customers can also donate to Shelter via Sparks. 

Andrea Deakin, Helpline Manager at Shelter, said: “Our advisers are doing everything they can to help people find or keep hold of their home in what’s expected to be one of the toughest winters as the cost of living crisis goes from bad to worse. 

“Day in day out our advisers hear appalling stories of people in the most desperate situations, from the man whose increasing rent meant he only had one bag of rice to last him until payday to the homeless families bounced from hostel to hostel. 

“We know we’ve got our work cut out, but everyone who picks something up from M&S’s Food on the Move range will help those putting on a brave face despite unimaginable hardship in their fight for a home.” 

Case study: “It was thanks to Chris from the helpline that my children and I had somewhere to sleep that night.”  

Danielle, 30, called Shelter’s emergency helpline in August after her and her children were made homeless when her landlord decided to sell up.  

“After being evicted my kids and I started sofa surfing, but we couldn’t do this forever. I spoke to the council but nothing happened, and my kids and I were left with nowhere to sleep.  

“Desperate, I rang Shelter and spoke with a man called Chris. He genuinely cared and reassured me I wasn’t alone. He held his promise of ringing me back by 6pm and took the time to discuss all the options with me. It was thanks to him that my children and I had somewhere to sleep that night.  

“Shelter helped me once again after the council bounced me between hotels and hostels that were completely unsuitable. I told the advisers how, while at the council hostel, I was miles away from my children’s school, had no cooker or washing machine, and the children were up at night listening to people fighting and swearing. The advisers explained I could get legal help. They took time to explain the process, told me how I could apply for legal aid, and who to ring for legal help.  

“I now live in a place where each of my kids each have their own bedroom. But I know if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. I’d never been in this situation before, and I’d never needed help. I was clueless. To have someone who could answer my questions, no matter how stupid I felt they were, was such a relief.” 

Jo Daniels, Head of Partnerships at M&S said: “We’ve been supporting Shelter since 2005 and have donated £14.6 million in that time thanks to our generous colleagues and customers. We are very proud of what the partnership has achieved - not only do we support through our Festive Food on the Move range, but Shelter is also one of our Sparks charities meaning customers can help every time they shop.” 

Notes to editors:

Shelter’s Emergency Helpline Data: 

  • Figures relate to data collected by Shelter’s National Helpline in England, between01/08/2022 to 31/10/2022 and 01/08/2021 to 31/10/2021 

  • The number of calls per day (1,032) is based on the average number of calls daily during this period. The total number of calls made to the helpline received in this period was 94,954. 

  • The percentage of people ‘homeless or at risk of homelessness’ includes all categories where the person indicated they were homeless or there was some risk of homelessness even if that wasn’t in the next 56 days. The figure for 2022 is 78.26% vs 70.12% in 2021. 

  • Cost of living data was collected between 08/08/2022 and 31/10/2022. Percentage of callers reporting the cost of living crisis is making their housing situation worse is based on their response to the question: “How is the cost-of-living crisis impacting your housing situation". Figure calculated from those who answered "It is making my housing situation worse. "People who responded "don't know" have been excluded from this calculation. 

Question: “How is the cost of living crisis impacting your housing situation?”

“It is making my housing situation better” “It is not affecting my housing situation” “It is making my housing situation worse” Total
0.67%28.96% 70.39%100.00%

About Shelter: Shelter exists to defend the right to a safe home and fight the devastating impact the housing emergency has on people and society. Shelter believes that home is everything. Learn more at   

About Shelter’s Winter Appeal 2022: Join Shelter now in the fight against homelessness and bad housing. Our expert advisers are working with communities across the country, they are taking calls at our emergency helpline, and they are giving online advice to millions through our website.  But as more people turn to Shelter, we need the public to help us be there. Give what you can and together we can provide free advice and support to thousands of families facing homelessness this winter. Visit