New analysis by Shelter reveals that more than 100,000 children in Britain will be homeless this Christmas day – the equivalent of four children for every school in the country. This is an increase of 15,000 on the number of homeless children last year.
The charity says that the majority of these children will be forced to live in temporary accommodation, bed and breakfasts (B&B) or hostels – which are often cramped and unsafe, due to a lack of affordable housing.
According to its analysis, which is based upon the latest Government figures on homelessness, the number of children living in temporary accommodation is at its highest level since 2008. The number of families living in B&Bs has trebled over the last five years.
To highlight the struggles faced by families living in temporary accommodation, Shelter has published new research detailing the experiences of 20 families. ‘This is no place for a child’, reveals that children living in emergency accommodation do not have the space to live their lives, to play study or relax. Nor do they have a place of safety where they can grow and develop.
All 20 families that were interviewed by the charity lived in rooms with fewer beds than people; 14 parents had to share beds with their children.
Many families reported that their ‘small’ room was in a state of disrepair. For example some rooms had mould, poorly secured cupboards, stained mattresses and windows that wouldn’t close.
A number of parents, especially those with younger children, said that their child’s personal development had been affected by living in emergency accommodation. This ranged from speech, toilet training and bed wetting, to setbacks in learning to walk.
Families also felt that their child’s mental and physical health had been affected, which in some cases impacted upon their education.
Shelter is now calling on the public for urgent support this Christmas so its advisers can help the growing number of families affected by homelessness.
It is also holding a fundraising campaign on Friday 4 December, encouraging children to wear their slippers to nursery or school.
Alison Mohammed, director of services at Shelter, said, ‘There’s nothing more heart-breaking than hearing the voice of a parent who’s desperately trying to keep a roof over their children’s heads.
‘But the sad fact is, almost every day, we hear from families who’ve fallen on hard times and found themselves living in a single cramped room of a B&B or hostel, unable to give their children the environment they need to grow and thrive in.
‘Worrying about your child’s safety every day, eating dinners on the floor, and sharing beds – this is no way for a family to live. But sadly we know we’re going to have even more families coming to us who are facing the reality of Christmas without a place to call home.
‘That’s why we urgently need the public’s support to help us make sure we can be there for more homeless families this Christmas.’
- For more information about Shelter's slippers fundraising campaign click here