90,000 children in Britain to face Christmas homeless
90,000 children in Britain – the equivalent of three in every school – will spend this Christmas homeless, government figures show.
With their helpline already stretched to breaking point, Shelter are launching an emergency appeal in response.
The figures also show that the number of homeless families living in B&Bs has almost doubled in three years. This is particularly alarming following the shocking results of a Shelter investigation into living conditions in B&Bs.
The in-depth investigation into 20 families found that well over half felt unsafe in their temporary accommodation, with parents reporting exposure to drug and alcohol abuse, fighting, swearing and racist language.
The investigation also showed the emotional impact on the children living this way. Over half of the families said their children’s mental or emotional health had been affected, including reports of depression and panic attacks.
With the number of homeless families on the rise, Shelter is bracing itself for a surge in calls to its helpline, and has launched an emergency appeal to help its services cope with the strain this Christmas.
Felicia, a mother of two, was evicted along with her children after her marriage broke down. With nowhere to go, they became homeless and had to live in a B&B for two months:
‘My children had already been through hell before we got to the B&B, but once we moved in their mental health declined with every passing day. My son became depressed for the first time in his life and wouldn’t get out of bed, and my daughter even started self-harming. As a mother it was heart-breaking to see, but I felt so helpless because living in the B&B was our only option.
‘If I hadn’t found Shelter I don’t know what we would have done, but thankfully they were able to help find us a more stable place to live.’
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, called on the public to donate what they can to the emergency appeal:
‘In the 21st century it cannot be right that homeless children are experiencing severe emotional distress, facing three hour round trips to school and having to eat their dinner on the floor.
‘Our advisers will be working tirelessly to support people who find themselves homeless this Christmas, but it’s getting harder and harder for us to be there for every family that needs us.
‘We urgently need more support from the public to help us make sure no-one has to fight homelessness on their own this Christmas.’
You can support Shelter’s emergency Christmas appeal at shelter.org.uk/donate
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