100,000 children homeless for Christmas

MORE than 100,000 children will be homeless this Christmas Day across Britain – the equivalent of four for every school in the country – according to estimates from Shelter.
MSP Jim Eadie and Graeme Brown  launch Shelter Scotlands campaign. Picture: Ian GeorgesonMSP Jim Eadie and Graeme Brown  launch Shelter Scotlands campaign. Picture: Ian Georgeson
MSP Jim Eadie and Graeme Brown launch Shelter Scotlands campaign. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The housing and homelessness charity said the number of homeless children has soared by almost 15,000 in the past year.

There are almost 5,000 homeless youngsters in Scotland – 626 more than last year, representing a 15 per cent increase.

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The charity says the increased number of homeless children indicates a growing bottleneck of families stuck in temporary accommodation due to the major shortage of affordable housing across Scotland.

The charity, which interviewed 20 families living in temporary accommodation said the majority said their children’s emotional wellbeing and development had been badly affected, with reports of bed-wetting, problems with speech, anxiety, and distress, Shelter said the number of children living in temporary accommodation is at highest level since 2008.

The charity is calling on Scotland’s political parties to include ambitious targets for new affordable housing in their manifestos for next year’s Holyrood election campaigns.

Alison Watson, deputy director of Shelter Scotland, which is launching its winter campaign today, said: “Families with children can spend many weeks, months or even years stuck in temporary accommodation waiting for a house they can call home.

“Being homeless is particularly detrimental to children’s health, life chances and education, with recent research from the Commission on Housing and Wellbeing showing homeless children miss on average 55 school days each year.

“We simply have to do more to make sure no child is homeless at Christmas or at any other time.”

Margaret Burgess MSP, minister for housing and welfare, said: “Preventing people from experiencing the misery of homelessness is a priority for the Scottish Government which is why we have ensured through legislation and regulations that the vast majority of homeless families in temporary accommodation in Scotland are in good quality, well-managed, furnished social housing and that the time spent there is as short as possible before moving to suitable settled ­accommodation.

“In Scotland we’ve seen the overall number of children in temporary accommodation fall since 2007, but this is too important an area for complacency.”