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2000 South West Children Will Be Homeless This Christmas

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10:02am 3rd November 2014

2000 children in the southwest will wake up homeless at Christmas.

Housing charity Shelter calls it a scandal.

It warns too many youngsters are suffering emotional distress.

It is as they are shuttled between B&Bs.

Nationally the figures show that the number of homeless families living in B&B accommodation in England has almost doubled in just three years.

After receiving regular reports of the devastating impact of life for families in B&Bs and hostels, Shelter conducted an in-depth investigation with 20 families in England currently or recently living in temporary accommodation, which uncovered the shocking realities they face.

13 families said they felt unsafe in their accommodation, with some of the worst accounts including exposure to drug and alcohol abuse, fighting, swearing and racist language.

The majority of families had to live in one room, share kitchen and bathroom facilities with strangers, and eat meals in their room on the bed or floor.

The investigation also uncovered the emotional turmoil of living in these circumstances.

Over half of the families said their children's mental or emotional health had been affected, including reports of depression, panic attacks and wetting the bed.

With the number of homeless families on the rise, Shelter is bracing itself for a surge in demand for its already over-stretched advice services.

The charity is calling on the public to help make sure it can be there for Britain's homeless children this Christmas by donating to its urgent appeal.

Shelter's investigation highlighted the devastating impact of being homeless on every aspect of families' lives, and found that: 

1) 16 families reported that their children's physical health had suffered since living in temporary accommodation.

2) All 20 families said it had a negative effect on relationships with family and friends.

3) 12 families reported their children had found it harder to make or keep friends.

4) 4 families said their children had over a 1 ½ hour journey each way to school, with 2 families saying their children had to miss school altogether.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "No child should have to go through the trauma of losing their home, so it's heart-breaking to think that more than 2000 in the South West will wake up homeless this Christmas.

"In the 21st century it cannot be right that homeless children are experiencing severe emotional distress, facing three hour round trips to school and having to eat their dinner on the floor.

"These days it only takes one thing to push a family into a downward spiral which can end in homelessness, and we're bracing ourselves for an increase in demand from families who desperately need our help to keep a roof over their heads.
"Our advisers will be working tirelessly to support people who find themselves homeless this Christmas but it's getting harder and harder for us to be there for every family that needs us.

"We urgently need more support from the public to help us make sure no-one has to fight homelessness on their own this Christmas."

10:02am 3rd November 2014

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