Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Christian children's charity condemns temporary living accommodation for thousands of children

Wed 21 Aug 2019
By Ruth Sax

Thousands of children are living in shipping containers, cramped office blocks and B&Bs, according to the children's commissioner for England.

A new report from the office of the Children's Commissioner has found that 210,000 young people in England were put up by councils in temporary housing and bed and breakfasts.

Anne Longfield said it was a scandal that they're also forced to "sofa-surf" with friends, often for long periods.



Such accommodation could be unsafe, disruptive and overcrowded, with no room for children to play or do homework. It was frequently in poor condition, far from family support networks and schools, and often in isolated locations dogged by crime or antisocial behaviour.

CEO of Spurgeons Children's Charity, Ross Hendry told Premier he is not surprised by the figures and said, they're a "confirmation of what charities like Spurgeons have counted on the ground" over the last few years.

"What this report highlights is that there's been an 80 percent increase in the number of children who are homeless, or sofa surfing, since 2010 and yes, it's a sad, but I think, quite accurate picture."

Hendry agreed with findings from the report that one cause was there not being enough affordable housing being built but also blamed "the rise in poverty and the economic hardship that families are going through"
meaning that "they are not able to stay in their homes".

Hendry told Premier: "There are 375,000 children living in homes that are falling behind in their rent or their mortgage payments. So it's not just the homeless, but it's the children living in highly stressful situations as well, because as much as mum and dad may try to shield their children from those economic and sort of financial problems that they do, the children do perceive what's going on."

Hendry told Premier the work Spurgeons Children's Charity does with families across the UK sees the impact of living in these conditions, he said: "It massively impacts their development, and what their expectations are, what their life chances are, but also their health.

"Children, face both physical health problems, respiratory problems, but also lots of mental health problems, as well.

"These houses and the sort of the temporary accommodation, the sofa surfing, the shipping containers that are being converted into homes are just not fit for purpose."

Hendry told Premier: "The Bible tells us we all have responsibility for these issues and the way we see injustice, or need, we have to tackle them."

Launching the report on family homelessness Anne Longfield said the causes were a lack of affordable housing and financial instability created by welfare changes, cuts to universal credit and a four-year freeze on housing benefit.

The report wants it to be a "wake up call" to the government to do more to address the temporary housing situation in England.


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