ALMOST 5,000 children in Scotland will be homeless this Christmas, a housing charity has warned.
Shelter Scotland said the figure will be more than 80,000 across the UK as the number of families in emergency housing is at a ten-year high.
The charity has launched an emergency appeal and is calling on the Scottish Government to adopt guidelines on minimum standards of temporary accommodation to prevent people being put in “dangerous” properties.
The charity said it helped about 1,000 people at risk of homelessness last winter.
Shelter Scotland wants people to sign an online petition and “send an e-Christmas card” to the First Minister backing the charity’s campaign.
Director Graeme Brown said: “It’s a badge of shame that 4,847 children in Scotland will spend this Christmas living in temporary accommodation – some in hostels.
“With no agreed standards for the quality of accommodation they are sent to, many end up in cold, damp, dangerous and completely unsuitable properties – risking their long-term health and wellbeing.
“We’re asking the Scottish Government to commit to a set of guidelines for standards in temporary accommodation and to change the law so families can challenge the appalling conditions they are often forced to live in.
“That way, we can ensure that in future no child wakes up on Christmas morning or any other morning in such terrible circumstances.”
The charity said data from its helpline and advice services showed that the main causes of homelessness include relationship breakdowns and job losses leading to eviction or home repossession.
Mr Brown added: “No child should be homeless at Christmas. Every December, Shelter Scotland’s helpline and advisers deal with thousands of people at risk of losing their home.
“We need everyone’s support so our teams can help prevent families from becoming homeless and, if the worst happens, support them to get a decent roof over their heads.
“We are asking everyone in Scotland to join our campaign by sending an e-Christmas card to the First Minister Alex Salmond to say they support our call to help children and families living in temporary accommodation at Christmas and throughout the year.”
A report by Shelter UK, which focused on those living in local B&Bs, concluded: “The majority of the families were living together in one room, while in over half of the cases investigated, children were sharing beds with their parents or siblings.
“Two thirds of families said that their children had no table to eat meals on, and often had to eat on the floor or on the bed.”
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Our shocking findings have uncovered the shameful conditions homeless children will be living in this Christmas.
“Parents and children sharing beds, children forced to eat on the floor and being threatened with violence in the place they live: this shouldn’t be happening in 21st-century Britain.”