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It’s In Your Hands Campaign

Shelter NI have launched a new dynamic campaign aimed at raising awareness of homelessness in Northern Ireland. 

From the turn of the century, levels of homelessness in Northern Ireland have doubled and in NI the level of homelessness is comparatively the highest in the UK. *

“We can no longer ignore the scale of homelessness in NI. Thousands of families and children continue to be denied their right to have a home of their own because we are all prepared to settle for homeless people living in a hostel or other temporary accommodation for long periods. Justice demands an end to long term homelessness, we all have a responsibility to act now” said Tony McQuillan, Shelter NI Director.

Through a generous invitation from the Publicity Association Northern Ireland (PANI) to be part of the PANI Student Workshop in 2016, the workshop proposed seven competing teams formed by Ulster University students, mentored by well stablished and leading Design/Advertising Agencies to create a new advertising campaign.

Shelter NI took the opportunity to brief the students on all aspects of homelessness including a visit to one of our projects in Omagh to provide them with a better understanding of our work. A final workshop concluded with a presentation by each of the teams. Team Ardmore was the selected group with the “It’s in your hands” campaign.

The focus of the campaign was to make people more aware of homelessness, of the work of Shelter NI and to encourage more people to contribute to its tasks.

We would like to thank everyone that was part of this wonderful collaboration and in particular, PANI, Ardmore, University Ulster and all stakeholders involved. Without their great support and work, this campaign would not have been possible.



The official figures published by the Department for Social Development/ Department for Communities in N.I. show that from April 2014 to March 2015 over 19,600 households presented themselves as homeless to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE). The three main causes of homelessness in Northern Ireland were: sharing/marital breakdown (5,740), accommodation not suitable (3,663) and loss of rented accommodation (2,841). The scale of these figures exemplify the acute housing problem facing all our communities. Every day in Northern Ireland more than 50 families or individuals declare themselves as homeless to the authorities.

The benefits of housing are demonstrated through Article 25(a) of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UN, 1948) which demands that: 

  • Households have the right to live in decent affordable suitable warm housing with improved safety, long term security of tenure, consequently producing sustainable neighbourhoods with the opportunity for improved quality of life and health and well-being outcomes
  • A more equitable, balanced, fair and peaceful society should be a National objective.


The campaign selected is known as It’s in your hands. This is in recognition that we always depend on the generosity of local people to give us their time and donations to help our cause.

The symbolic images in this campaign can be explained as follows:

  • Cup of tea – this hand shaped as a cup reflects the testimonial from Eileen, to say that we have helped her to move around her home safely and comfortably enabling her to continue to make herself a nice a warm cup of tea.
  • Light bulb – this hand shaped as a light bulb reflects the testimonial from Dwayne, to show that even when he leaves the project we will continue to work closely with him and to offer any support when needed.
  • Sleeping - this hand shaped as a bed reflects the Charlene testimonial, to show the value of feeling safe and secure in her own home.

This campaign will be marked by a series of events where people will be given the option to come down and volunteer as well as getting more information on our work and projects. The first event will be on Sunday the 4th September 2016, from 12noon-4pm where Shelter NI will launch this latest campaign #ItsInYourHands, with a charity event to be held at the grounds of Belfast City Hall. 




*  By the end of the decade @ March 2015, approximately 195, 000 households had presented as homeless to the NIHE, or on average just under 20,000 per year. The number of households in NI according to the 2011 Census, was 703,275. Allowing for the slightly different time periods, the equivalent of 2.8% of all households living in NI present as homeless, every year or more than 50 households per day, 365 days per year. By comparison, Scotland has more than 3 times the number of household than NI. The Scottish equivalent figures for 2013/14 is 36,457 homeless applicants (or 100 per day), 2,373,000 households (Census 2011), giving an equivalent of 1.5% of all households living in Scotland presenting as homeless. (The Scottish statistics may undercount the presenters because of the introduction of the Housing Options process). For England 2014/15, presenters were 112,340, estimated 2011 households 22.1m; giving an equivalent of 0.5%; presenters were 14160 for Wales 2014/15; estimated 2014 households 1.326m giving an equivalent of 1%.  Even allowing for the time variations in the statistics, the scale of households presenting as homeless in NI is the highest in the UK.

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