PARENTS

90,000 Children Will Be Homeless On Christmas Day, Charity Warns

10/11/2014 09:05 | Updated 20 May 2015

Two Sleepy Children Waking Up

Housing charity Shelter has warned that up to 90,000 children in the UK are facing a 'homeless Christmas' in 2014 - thousands more than last year.

The majority of these children represent the 'invisible homeless'. They won't be seen sleeping on the streets but will be in temporary housing provided by the council, such as a room in a hostel or a bed and breakfast.

However, Shelter says that its research with families who have lost their home paints a grim picture of life in emergency housing.

"Some will have no access to cooking facilities, and very little furniture," reads a statement on their policy blog published today (3 November).

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Imagine eating your Christmas dinner in bed or on the floor. That's reality for many homeless families.

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The majority of families in temporary accommodation live out of a single private room, sharing communal facilities like a kitchen and bathroom with others.

All of the 20 families surveyed by Shelter said that their living situation had had a negative impact on their children's emotional well-being, with some reporting depression, panic attacks and self-harm.

Some children also faced long commutes due to being placed in accommodation far away from their schools. This also had a detrimental effect on their social development, leaving them feeling isolated from their school friends.

Even more worryingly, the predicted figure represents a steep increase in cases of homelessness from this time last year. The number of children living in temporary B&B accommodation has doubled in the last three years, the charity's investigation has discovered.

Shelter's campaign aims to raise awareness of the country's growing housing crisis, and provide support to families at risk of homelessness. Where possible, Shelter works to prevent families losing their homes in the first places, while also finding secure housing for those who have been made homeless.

However, the charity warns that the root cause of homelessness is a lack of available affordable housing, and that serious progress can only be made by ramping up construction of new homes to accommodate the country's expanding population.

"Until we have enough, thousands of families will have no alternative but to rent privately, and be at the mercy of the private rented sector," the blog warns, pointing out that the leading cause of homelessness is the end of a tenancy in a privately rented property.

"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," said Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb.

You can read more about the Shelter Christmas campaign and donate here.

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