Fifty years ago, housing association Shelter was launched on the back of a TV programme and it immediately took to examining Britain’s many slums and rogue landlords – after photographer Nick Hedges snapped a series of very powerful images of some of the country’s poorest families that accompanied Ken Loach’s gritty and seminal docudrama Cathy Come Home.
Hedges went on to collaborate with Shelter for their first Christmas appeal for the homeless. The unavoidable truth about life in Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Bradford, Peterborough and other disadvantaged areas depicted in his very raw images provided a stark contrast to the idealised image of the swinging 60s.
And earlier this week, Channel 5 tracked down the kids in Hedges’ distressing photos, as they went in search for an update on their lives for their new documentary Slum Britain: 50 Years On. The programme contrasted the often-cited slums of the 1960s with the 21st-century housing crisis many are experiencing today. So it does indeed really beg the big question half a century later: Has anything really changed?
Channel 5 used the documentary to promote the latest Shelter Appeal that will support the 120,000 British kids who will wake up homeless on Christmas Day.
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