14th Dec, 2017

Thousands of children across West Midlands will wake up in temporary accommodation this Christmas

Sarah Mason 6th Dec, 2017

ALMOST 5,000 children across the region will wake up homeless and in temporary accommodation this Christmas, a new report by Shelter has revealed.

The number of families in emergency B&B and hostel rooms sits at 4,828 across the West Midlands, including 15 in Warwick, according to the homeless charity.

In the last year alone, 61 per cent of the families helped by Shelter’s frontline services were homeless or on the brink of losing their home.

With at least 16 families becoming homeless every day in the West Midlands, the charity is calling on the public to support its urgent Christmas appeal.

To expose the devastating reality of homelessness, Shelter carried out interviews with children and their parents living in emergency accommodation.

Researchers spoke to families including Nathan, 28, who has been homeless for three months, and until recently was living in a Travelodge with his 16-month old son, where he only had access to a kettle.

He said: “There’s milk and stuff, but there’s no microwave. It’s pretty hard to make food. I’ve got to get the jars and stick it in the kettle, and then put the kettle on to warm it up, so that’s the best way to feed him.”

In Shelter’s investigation every family lived in a single room which significantly disrupts the children’s ability to play, do homework and carry out any kind of daily routine.

A quarter of the families had no access to a kitchen at all, and the rest had to make do with shared facilities. Struggling to cook meals, more than half of parents said they rely on expensive and unhealthy takeaways. And two-thirds had to eat family meals on the bed or floor of their room.

Half of the families had to share toilet and bathroom facilities with other households, often with filthy conditions and unlockable doors, meaning strangers could walk in at any moment

More than a third of parents had to share a bed with their children. Three quarters say bedtimes have become difficult and half say their children are more tired.

Shelter manager, Vicky Hines said: “It’s a national scandal that the number of homeless children in Britain has risen every year for the last decade.

“No child should have to spend Christmas without a home – let alone almost 5,000 children in West Midlands.

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

“Imagine living in a noisy strange place full of people you don’t know, and waking up exhausted from having no choice but to share a bed with your siblings or parents.

“That’s why our frontline advisers will continue to work tirelessly to help more families fighting homelessness. But we can’t do this alone. We’re asking people to help a homeless family and make giving to Shelter their new Christmas tradition.”

To support Shelter’s urgent Christmas appeal please visit www.shelter.org.uk or text SHELTER to 70080 to donate £3.

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