Shelter analysis of government statistics reveals that over 2,400 children will wake up homeless this Christmas day in the West Midlands - a rise of 10% in the last year. And worryingly, with councils feeling the pressure of our affordable housing shortage, the number of families across Britain living in B&Bs – accommodation which is often cramped and unsafe for children – has more than trebled over the last five years.
Shelter is calling on the public for urgent support this Christmas, as its advisers struggle to cope with demand for help from the growing number of families battling to keep a roof over their heads.
To highlight the heart-breaking real life stories behind these shocking statistics, the charity has conducted research with 20 families living in B&Bs and hostels, uncovering the struggles they face every day.
Families reported 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 interviewed 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.