Cardboard Citizens and Shelter Scotland forge new relationship to tackle homelessness

Fringe audiences urged to take action as Cardboard Citizens join forces with Shelter Scotland in an effort to make theatre truly life-changing

  • Shelter Scotland supports homeless theatre company Cardboard Citizens whose Fringe debut Cathy is inspired by Ken Loach’s seminal film Cathy Come Home
  • The two organisations come together with a shared mission to help end homelessness
  • Joint promotional activity announced to widen access and participation to ensure those who have experienced homelessness have an opportunity to see Cathy, including the allocation of a proportion of tickets for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe run for those with experience of homelessness at £1

World acclaimed homeless theatre company Cardboard Citizens today announced they have forged a relationship with Shelter Scotland which will see them work together to address homelessness and help those who have experienced it, using theatre as one of the key platforms.

Efforts will be centred on raising awareness, access opportunities and participation in Cardboard Citizens’ critically acclaimed production Cathy, which will make its Edinburgh Fringe debut next month following a sell-out UK tour. The production is a modern reimagining of Ken Loach and Jeremy Sandford’s seminal film Cathy Come Home, which first screened in 1966, causing national public outrage. The film inspired the Housing Act and the creation of Shelter later that year.

Directed by Adrian Jackson, the new play continues Cardboard Citizens’ exploration of the state of housing and homelessness and looks how life might be for a Cathy today. Cathy was researched in partnership with Shelter and is based on true stories, providing a timely reflection of the social and personal impact of spiralling housing costs, gentrification and the challenges of a lack of truly affordable housing.  In Scotland, there are currently, over 10,500 homeless households in temporary accommodation, 142,500 on council waiting lists for a home and a homelessness application was made every 19 minutes in Scotland last year.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe audiences will be encouraged to take action after each performance with a short Legislative Theatre section in which audiences will be given a chance to voice their opinion, take action, express their views and contribute to the proposal of new housing laws. The format follows the high-profile performance ofCathy at the House of Lords earlier this year when the company presented to MPs the top five housing laws suggested by audiences on the UK tour. Shelter Scotland will provide guidance and advice to the company following the collation of audience contributions in order to influence and effect change in Scotland.

As with all Cardboard Citizens productions, a proportion of tickets for Cathy’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe run will be made available to people with experience of homelessness at £1, with Shelter Scotland working alongside the theatre company to allocate these tickets to local organisations working with homeless, ex-homeless and vulnerable people.

Shelter Scotland will help raise awareness of Cathy and encourage and support as many people as possible to see the show, have their say and take action.

The relationship comes at pivotal time for both organisations as Cardboard Citizens marks its 25th anniversary and Shelter Scotland continues with its hard-hitting national campaign Homelessness: Far From Fixed. Both organisations are using the relationship as an opportunity to further enforce their shared mission to end homelessness as the UK faces an arguably more dire housing crisis than was originally depicted in Loach’s original screening.

Adrian Jackson, Founder, Director and Chief Executive of Cardboard Citizens said: “Cardboard Citizens is pleased to be working with Shelter Scotland as we make our Edinburgh Fringe debut. During our 25th anniversary year, Cathy Come Home has been prevalent throughout our work – first with a theatrical community staging of the play at the Barbican supported by Ken Loach and latterly with our modern reinterpretation, Ali Taylor’s exceptional Cathy – and so it is fitting to join forces with the charity that was formed as a result of this still powerful film and had a hand in determining the story Cathy tells. We are excited to bring this powerful and compelling story to Edinburgh audiences this summer.”

Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Cardboard Citizens’ run during this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe – especially as they are presenting their acclaimed Cathy production.

“For Shelter Scotland the original Cathy Come Home depicts all too clearly the human tragedy and suffering caused by bad housing and homelessness that was  – and still is  – being faced by thousands of people in Scotland.”

Graeme Brown added: “Great progress has been made in terms of legislation, support services and the quality of housing since Cathy Come Home was first screened, but the stark reality is that we still have a long way to go, with many of the failings of the housing system that led to Shelter Scotland being formed in 1968 still existing today.

“Cardboard Citizens’ production of Cathy is a stark reminder of the tragedy of homelessness and that, as the impact of low wages, the high cost of housing and harsh welfare reforms hit the poorest and most vulnerable in our society today, we should not be complacent about what still needs to be done to ensure everyone in Scotland has access to a safe, secure and affordable home.”

Cathy by Cardboard Citizens will run from 2nd – 26th August (not 9th, 14th 21st) at the Pleasance King Dome, 3.30pm

Tickets available at

To find out more about £1 tickets, email [email protected]