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128,000 Children Homeless at Christmas (How To Help)

December 7, 2017, 9:00 AM
  • Housing charity predicts record figures
  • “National Scandal”
  • Figures come after an increase in child poverty and rise in food bank usage
  • Homeless children’s mental and physical health in decline
Thousands of children will spend their Christmas in temporary accommodation, like this hostel in London. Image: Getty

128,000 children will wake up on Christmas Day without a home, according to leading housing charity Shelter.

This is the highest amount in a decade, and has risen by two-thirds since 2011.

The charity said that families who are shunted into cramped temporary accomodation suffer from psychological turmoil, as children are faced with feelings of shame, anxiety, and fear, the charity said.

This number is part of an estimated 1.6 million children in Britain who live in overcrowded, temporary, or run-down housing.

The report from Shelter comes after figures show the highest numbers of child and pensioner poverty in twenty years.

400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners are living in poverty than four years ago, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Recent figures from the Trussell Trust have also shown an increase in food bank usage, rising almost 17% in some areas this year.

Latest Deals found where food banks are most wanted, and what they are in need of for Christmas.

Polly Neate, Shelter’s Chief Executive, said, “It is a national scandal that the number of homeless children in Britain has risen every year for the last decade.

“Many of us will spend Christmas Day enjoying all of the festive traditions we cherish, but sadly it’ll be a different story for the children hidden away in cramped B&Bs or hostel rooms.”

The government has placed families into emergency B&B and hostels, often where they have to live in a single room with parents sharing a bed with their children.

Parents have also reported their child’s mental and physical health declining since they became homeless, due to bed bug infestations, broken heating, and stress from not having a permanent place to live.

Ellie, 15, lives in a cramped room with her whole family. She said, “It’s hard to concentrate at school because there’s the worry about coming home. It’s just stressful.

“There’s nowhere I can relax or get any privacy. It was much better before.

“We used to have our own home near school and our friends. We had our own rooms and a cooker and a fridge, so we could eat proper meals.

“I just want it to be like what it was before.”

Almost half of families in England who are placed into emergency B&Bs stay longer than the legal limit of six weeks.

Shelter said, “Most of us are unaware of how homeless children live.

“Families rarely experience the most visible symptom of homelessness-having to sleep rough, but that doesn’t mean that their living situations are perfect.

“They are often embarrassed to even let relatives or friends see where they are having to live.

No child should have to spend Christmas without a home, let alone 128,000.”

A spokesperson for the NSPCC said, “Shelter has exposed the devastating impact on children of losing a roof over their head.

“It is frightening to think the anxiety felt by some children leads to them feeling ashamed, or even considering taking their own life.”

To donate to Shelter’s Christmas appeal, visit www.shelter.org.uk or text SHELTER to 70080 to donate £1. Childline is also available for free for any child to call if they need someone to talk to.

For ways to give to the Trussell Trust food banks, visit their website.

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