120,000 children homeless this Xmas

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ONE hundred and twenty thousand children will wake up homeless this Christmas across Britain, Shelter warned yesterday.

Shelter has launched an urgent appeal after an in-depth investigation has uncovered the shocking reality of ‘hidden homelessness.’ The amount of children languishing in temporary accommodation has hit a ten-year high, the highest level recorded since 2007, new analysis of government figures shows.

Alarmingly, the figures also reveal that the number of families living in emergency B&B and hostel rooms has risen by a worrying 18% in just a year. Shelter said that the country is once again in the grip of a housing crisis, with a new family becoming homeless every 10 minutes. Some of the investigation’s most shocking findings included:

• More than three-quarters of families said they felt their accommodation was unsafe, with the worst accounts involving exposure to drug abuse, fighting, and strangers sleeping in the corridors.

• Every family lived in a single room without any space for the children to play, and over half of parents also had to share a bed with their children.

• Three-fifths of families had to share toilet and bathroom facilities, often in a poor and unsanitary condition, with other residents.

• More than two-thirds of families said their room was in a state of disrepair, including reports of mould, broken beds and stained mattresses, as well as more serious hazards like sparking electrical sockets and windows that wouldn’t close.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: ‘News of the devastating rise in homeless children will bring heartache to millions of people across Britain. But the sad fact is, fifty years since Shelter was founded, too many families still need our help.

‘Almost daily we hear from parents desperate to escape the single cramped room of a B&B or hostel that they find themselves struggling to raise their children in. Imagine having to eat all of your meals on the floor, share a bed with the rest of your family, or being too frightened to leave your room at night – these are things no parent wants their child to endure.

‘That’s why we urgently need the public’s support to help us be there for the thousands of families who’ll need us this Christmas. Join us and together we will not rest until every homeless child has a place to call home.’