Shelter warns of Christmas homelessness crisis

Homeless man outside Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London. Credit: PA

There will be over 57,000 children homeless on Christmas Day in London, the housing and homelessness charity Shelter has warned.

That is enough to fill 254 primary schools in the region.

Shelter is highlighting the figures to launch its new campaign to raise awareness of the plight of homeless families in the area this Christmas, whose numbers have increased steadily over recent months.

Seventeen out of the 29 London boroughs that supplied data will each have more than 1,000 homeless children living in temporary accommodation.

Of particular concern is the increase in families forced to live in B&Bs in London, which has almost doubled in the last year.

For homeless families, living in a B&B means parents and children living together in one room, with limited access to cooking or laundry facilities and often in appalling conditions.

This year the figures suggest that in London more than 1,500 children will be spending Christmas Day living in this way.

Last December, Shelter's helpline and local advice services like those in Ealing, Islington, Newham and Fulham helped more than 1,000 people at risk of becoming homeless over the festive period.

This December the charity is expecting even greater numbers of people who have nowhere else to turn to contact them for help.

Shelter is calling on people to support its vital work in helping families when the worst has happened.

  • The number of homeless families in London in Temporary Accommodation has increased by 9% over the last year, from 27316 in June 2011 to 29,653 in June 2012

  • There were 1,016 families in B&B in London in June 2012, in comparison to 534 families in B&B in 2011.

Children in Temporary Accommodation in London boroughs at the end of June 2012:

  • Barking and Dagenham 1,500

  • Barnet 2,832

  • Bexley data not available

  • Brent 5,957

  • Bromley 859

  • Camden 1,095

  • City of London 8

  • Croydon 2,790

  • Ealing 1,700

  • Enfield 3,670

  • Greenwich 314

  • Hackney 1,653

  • Hammersmith and Fulham 1,646

  • Haringey 4,681

  • Harrow 877

  • Havering 667

  • Hillingdon 940

  • Hounslow 1,485

  • Islington 1,161

  • Kensington and Chelsea data not available

  • Kingston upon Thames 620

  • Lambeth 1,568

  • Lewisham data not available

  • Merton 106

  • Newham 3,284

  • Redbridge 2,797

  • Richmond-upon-Thames 266

  • Southwark 951

  • Sutton 379

  • Tower Hamlets 3,472

  • Waltham Forest 2,051

  • Wandsworth 662

  • Westminster data not available