A staggering 135,000 children in Britain are homeless, living in temporary accommodation, according to a report launched today by Shelter – which is the highest number in 12 years.
For the first time, the charity has exposed the frequency with which children are becoming homeless, as its Generation Homeless report reveals a child loses their home every eight minutes. This is the equivalent of 183 children per day, enough to fill 2.5 double decker buses.
The report also shines a light on the 5,683 homeless families with children currently living in emergency B&Bs and hostels – widely considered the worst type of accommodation. Families are often squashed into one room with little space to cook, play or eat their meals; are forced to share bathrooms with strangers; and the accommodation is often located miles away from schools, jobs and loved ones.
Case study: Will, 10, lives in a single room with his mum, dad and younger brother in an emergency B&B in Ilford. Will and his family became homeless after being served a Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction.
Will said: “Life in the B&B is horrible, it’s worse than being in a real-life horror film. There’s no room to do anything, even if I’m reading my book, as I’m still going to get annoyed by someone. I’ve been told off by someone for running in the small corridor, you can’t do much, you can’t play much. I don’t get to play that often.
“Sometimes me and my little brother Harry, we fight for the one chair, because we both want to sit at the table, and sometimes he wins and sometimes I win. I find it really hard to do my homework as I get distracted by my little brother and I don’t have another room to work in peace.
“We moved here in September, and they said we were going to stay for six weeks. Then they told us we were going to stay for two more, then they told us it will be another week, then another one.”
With a severe lack of social homes, expensive private rents and welfare cuts driving the country’s housing emergency, Shelter is warning that if nothing changes, 1,647 children will be made homeless between now and the time of the general election on December 12 and 4,026 by Christmas day on December 25.
The charity is calling on every political party to put housing at the top of its domestic agenda and is asking the public to support its urgent Christmas appeal.
Shining a light on the devastating impact the housing emergency is having on young lives across the country, the report also revealed:
- In England, the areas with the highest proportion of homeless children are the London boroughs Kensington & Chelsea, Haringey, Westminster and Newham where 1 in every 12 children are homeless.
- Outside the capital, the places with the highest concentration of homeless children are Luton (1 in every 22 children), Brighton & Hove (1 in every 30) and Manchester (1 in every 47)
- And this bleak picture is also illustrated in England’s classrooms, where there is an average of five homeless children for every school in the country.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The fact 183 children become homeless every day is a scandalous figure and sharp reminder that political promises about tackling homelessness must be turned into real action.
“Day in, day out we see the devastating impact the housing emergency is having on children across the country. They are being uprooted from friends; living in cold, cramped B&Bs and going to bed at night scared by the sound of strangers outside.
“Every child has the right to a safe home and if we act now, we can help get them to a better place. So, every donation will mean Shelter can be there for the children and families who need us this Christmas.”
To donate to Shelter’s urgent Christmas appeal please visit www.shelter.org.uk or text SHELTER to 70030 to donate £3. Texts cost your standard network rate + £3. Shelter receives 100% of your donation.