More than 75,0001 children in Britain will wake up homeless on Christmas Day, housing and homelessness charity Shelter has warned today.This equates to more than two children in every primary school in Britain, or enough children to fill 333 primary schools.2
Shelter is highlighting the figures to launch its new campaign to raise awareness of the plight of homeless families in Britain this Christmas, whose numbers have been rising steadily over recent months3. Of particular concern is the increase in families with children forced to live in B&Bs, which has increased by 57% over the past twelve months4.
For homeless families this means parents and children living together in one room, with limited access to cooking or laundry facilities and often in appalling conditions. This year more than 3,000 children will be spending Christmas Day living in this way.5
Michelle was left with two young children and a mortgage to pay after her relationship with her partner broke down. “My part time job in a shop meant that I was able to keep the family afloat and look after the kids for three years. I was then made redundant, and I struggled to find another job that would allow me to look after the kids. Debts started building up. I couldn’t pay for the kids’ clothes, the food and the mortgage and it completely stressed me out. Depression hit me like a ton of bricks. My home was repossessed, and the council refused to help me. After intervention from Shelter, I was offered an emergency bedsit. We spent Christmas in a B&B, and my son was devastated to have to leave his dog behind.” Michelle was finally re-housed by the council last year.
Last December, Shelter’s helpline and local advice centres helped more than 1000 people at risk of becoming homeless over the festive period. This December the charity is expecting even greater numbers of people who have nowhere else to turn to contact them for help. Shelter is calling on people to support its vital work in helping families when the worst has happened.
Campbell Robb, Chief Executive of Shelter said: “It’s easy to think of homelessness as single people sleeping rough. What people don’t often consider is the rising numbers of families who, through no fault of their own, have lost their home and have no permanent roof over their heads. For people with children, ‘sofa surfing’ with friends and family often just isn’t a realistic option.”
The main triggers for homelessness include relationship breakdowns, job losses, and landlords ending renters’ tenancies.
Campbell Robb continued: “No child should be homeless at Christmas. Every December, Shelter’s helpline and advice centres deal with thousands of people at risk of losing their home. We need everyone’s support in the coming months so our advisors can help prevent families from becoming homeless, and help them into a home if the worst should happen.”
Visit shelter.org.uk to make a donation or Text HOMES to 87085 to give £3 to Shelter emergency Christmas appeal.
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Notes to Editors
1) Children in Temporary Accommodation.
England: DCLG, figures for June 2012 published September 2012
Scotland: Scottish Government: figures for June published in October
Wales: Welsh Government: June figures published in September
2) The structure of primary education: England and other countries (Research Survey 9/1) Anna Riggall and Caroline Sharp. 2008. Calculation based on average of 224 pupils in primary schools across Britain.
3) See 1) for sources. In June 2012, there were 43904 homeless families in Britain in TA, compared to 40842 in June 2011.
4) See 1) for sources. There were 1963 families in Britain in B&B in June 2012, in comparison to 1252 families in B&B in 2011.
5) See 1) for sources
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