Shelter reveals distressing reality of 78,000 London children waking up homeless this Christmas

More than 78,000 London children will wake up homeless this Christmas – a rise of more than 11,000 in the last year Shelter revealed.

The number of families across the capital living in B&Bs – accommodation which is often cramped and unsafe for children – has soared by nearly 30% in the last year.

The homeless charity is now calling on the public for urgent support as its advisers struggle to cope with demand for help from the growing number of families battling to keep a roof over their heads.

Director of Services at Shelter, Alison Mohammed, said: “There’s nothing more heart-breaking than hearing the voice of a parent who’s desperately trying to keep a roof over their children’s heads.

“But the sad fact is, almost every day, we hear from families who’ve fallen on hard times and found themselves living in a single cramped room of a B&B or hostel, unable to give their children the environment they need to grow and thrive in.

“Worrying about your child’s safety every day, eating dinners on the floor, and sharing beds – this is no way for a family to live.

“But sadly we know we’re going to have even more families coming to us who are facing the reality of Christmas without a place to call home.”

Families have reported to the charity about living in unfit and often dangerous conditions, with reports of children seeing their parents being physically attacked, being exposed to drug and alcohol abuse, and having strangers enter their rooms without permission.

The majority of families Shelter spoke to said their children’s emotional wellbeing and development had been badly affected, with reports of bed-wetting, problems with speech, anxiety, and distress.

In some cases, the impact was so severe that parents reported that children developed worrying behaviours including one child who began to self-harm and a six year old boy who developed a nervous tick due to anxiety.

Many children were also fearful of their new surroundings and became tearful and clingy, not wanting to be in different rooms from their parents.

Francesca and her two children became homeless after her mother, who they were living with, unexpectedly became a guardian to two young family members and there was no longer room for her family.

With nowhere else to go, they were forced to live in one room of a hostel for seven months.

She said: “It was an incredibly difficult time for us.

“My daughter’s grades suffered because the baby would keep her up all night.

“It was also hard for her to keep her friendships going because she couldn’t bring any of them over to play.

“When you’re in a hostel it doesn’t feel like you’ve got a future, you can’t look ahead, you can’t see a way out.

“It’s like being in a big black hole and there’s no light.

“Luckily I spoke to an adviser from Shelter who eventually helped us find a better place to live.

“If it wasn’t for them, I don’t where we’d be now – we’re so grateful to have had their support.”

To support Shelter’s Christmas appeal visit or text SHELTER to 70060 to donate £3.

Picture courtesy of  janet isnt real, with thanks

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