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Plight of over 800 homeless children in the North West
8:10am Tuesday 17th December 2013 in News
MORE than 800 children in the region are homeless and living in temporary accommodation, according to the latest government figures.
The new statistics mean that, across Britain, nearly 85,000 children now face the reality of waking up homeless on Christmas morning - 820 of them within the North West.
Shelter is warning that as the rising cost of living and cuts to the housing safety net continue to take their toll, many more parents are likely to find themselves facing an ongoing struggle to keep a roof over their children’s heads.
The charity has launched an emergency fundraising appeal to support its work with homeless children this Christmas. Many of these children are likely to be living in emergency bed and breakfast accommodation.
A recent Shelter investigation uncovered some of the desperate conditions faced by families living in B&Bs.
Almost half of the 25 families interviewed by the charity reported very disturbing incidents witnessed by children, including open drug use and threats of violence.
With the majority living in just one room, two thirds of the families had such limited space that they were forced to eat on the floor or on the bed. Over half had to share a bathroom or toilet with strangers, many of them with more than seven people, and most felt unsafe in their temporary accommodation.
Already taking more than 470 calls a day to its helpline, Shelter is now bracing itself for an increase in demand for its advice services this Christmas; particularly given the 15% rise in the number of calls received during December last year.
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive said: “These new figures are even worse than we expected.
“It is an absolute disgrace that nearly 85,000 children in Britain face waking up homeless this Christmas morning. We’ll be there to help make sure families get the support they need to get back on their feet, but we need to see the Government rebuild our shredded safety net so it’s there to catch families who fall on hard times.
“On a day likely to be dominated by talk of economic recovery, behind these figures will be thousands of families with little reason to feel optimistic. Sadly the continued pressure of soaring living costs combined with cuts to the housing safety net means that many will face an ongoing struggle to stay in their homes.
“Shelter’s advisors work 365 days a year answering calls for help from families facing homelessness. But, with the number of people needing our services rising each day, we’ll be stretched to the limit this Christmas. We urgently need more support so that we can be there for these families.”
Due to welfare cuts and the soaring cost of housing it is increasingly difficult for local authorities to source suitable self-contained temporary accommodation, leaving many with no choice but to place families in B&Bs or hostels.
The charity is calling for temporary accommodation to be exempt from the benefit cap, to prevent more children from facing these conditions. To support Shelter’s emergency Christmas appeal visit shelter.org.uk or text HOME to 87080 and donate £3 to answer a call for help.
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