1. ITV Report

More than 40 children in Cumbria without a permanent home this Christmas

Shandor and his son Billy share a single room in temporary accommodation Photo: Shelter

More than 40 children in Cumbria will be without a permanent home on Christmas Day, a new report has revealed.

The figures come from housing charity, Shelter. They show Carlisle has the highest number of children in temporary accommodation in the county:

  • Carlisle - 14
  • Eden - 9
  • South Lakeland - 9
  • Allerdale - 6

Across Britain, there are more homeless children now than in any time over the past decade.

With at least seven families becoming homeless every day across the North West, Shelter is calling on the public to support its Christmas appeal.

The charity interviewed children and their parents living in B&Bs and hostels, reportedly the worst type of temporary accommodation, where the majority of families are placed.

The investigation found:

  • Every family shared a single room
  • 45% stayed beyond the six-week legal limit
  • A quarter of them had no access to a kitchen
  • Two thirds ate on the bed or room floor
  • Half shared toilet and bathroom facilities with other households - often filthy with unlock-able doors
  • More than a third of parents had to share a bed with their children
Sarah*, 40, was living in one room with her family, including her three-month old baby Credit: Shelter

These factors can cause families "psychological turmoil", Shelter's report said, with children experiencing anxiety, shame and fear.

Several parents also said their children's physical health had worsened, speaking of bug infestations, and broken heating causing illness.

For Geraldine, 45, and her 13-year-old daughter Hannah*, living in an emergency B&B has taken a huge toll on their mental and emotional wellbeing:

My daughter has felt very suicidal. I took her to the GP. They’ve referred her to the psychologist. She’s constantly breaking down crying. I had to take her to A&E on two occasions because she’s having problems, she keeps getting palpitations. She shakes.”

– Geraldine, Shelter case study

One Shelter hub manager claimed the number of homeless children in Britain is a 'national scandal':

No child should have to spend Christmas without a home - let alone more than 2,600 children in the North West.

Many of us will spend Christmas day enjoying all of the festive traditions we cherish, but sadly it’ll be a different story for those children hidden away in cramped B&Bs or hostel rooms.

Imagine living in a noisy strange place full of people you don’t know, and waking up exhausted from having no choice but to share a bed with your siblings or parents.

That’s why our frontline advisers will continue to work tirelessly to help more families fighting homelessness. But we can’t do this alone. We’re asking people to help a homeless family and make giving to Shelter their new Christmas tradition.”

– John Ryan, hub manager, Shelter Manchester
  • To support Shelter's Christmas appeal visit their website.