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3,500 children in Wales homeless and living in temporary accommodation this Christmas

17 Dec 2023 4 minute read
Image: Shelter Cymru

An unprecedented number of children in Wales will be homeless and living in temporary accommodation this Christmas according to a leading homelessness charity. 

Shelter Cymru has said the housing emergency gripping Wales weighs even more heavily on families in temporary accommodation during the holiday season.

The housing crisis across Wales is a distressing reality for parents who are sometimes required to move between different temporary addresses at short notice, while trying to shield their children from their harsh and precarious circumstances.

Shelter has heard from people they help support who tell them about the practical struggles of having the whole family in one room, having just a kettle to prepare meals with, or queuing up to use a shared washing machine or microwave.

Housing crisis

The people they talk to often talk feel like their lives are on hold and have a feeling of being in limbo. 

Employment opportunities, education, relationships, and health and wellbeing are adversely affected. Both adults and children tell Shelter about their feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Changes of address can mean a change of school; children can’t invite friends over to play at their Bed & Breakfast; being far away from family support just adds to the practical problems of getting to work, and can make it unaffordable to get to work or see family and friends. 

The current housing crisis in Wales, characterised by unaffordable rents and a severe shortage of social homes, has resulted in a staggering number of people being affected. There are currently almost 140,000 people on the waiting list for a social home.

Tracy’s story

Tracy is a disabled single mum of four children. The family had to leave their home when their landlord decided to sell the property. But like many people, the current price of rent has made finding a permanent, affordable home incredibly difficult.

Although they have a temporary place to stay in, it’s a B&B, the accommodation is small and the family have been forced to give up a lot of their possessions due to lack of space. 

Additionally, two of Tracy’s children have complex needs, making the move even more difficult to cope with. 

“We are stuck in one room and I’m struggling every day to just keep it together. It’s affecting the kids as they have no space to themselves – no personal space, or even space to play. They can’t have any friends over.” 

Shelter Cymru has been a lifeline for Tracy’s family and has stood by her giving help, advice and support. Together, they are working to find the forever home that she and her children need. 

Negative impact

A large amount of Shelter’s time is spent preventing homelessness from happening in the first place, by giving people the advice and support they need to stay in their own homes

Ruth Power, CEO of Shelter Cymru said: “We know first-hand the negative impact that not having a home and living in temporary accommodation has on people’s mental and physical health. And we know that homelessness affects children and young people’s education, and can have lifelong impacts. Children also feel the fear, unhappiness and loneliness of homelessness, despite families’ best efforts to protect them.

“There simply aren’t enough homes that people can afford in Wales. As a result, more than 11,000 people are living in temporary accommodation in Wales, including nearly 3,500 children, more than double the amount than in December 2020. Both renters and homeowners, are faced with the real prospect of losing their home in the coming year, and without more resources the pressures on homelessness services across Wales will be immense.

“Homelessness is everyone’s concern. We must all do what we can to ensure that no child or adult spends another Christmas in unsuitable temporary accommodation. Every child deserves a safe place to call home.”

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Linda Jones
Linda Jones
6 months ago

A secure home is such a basic human right, nothing works without one. Given the current level of homelessness in Wales, particularly children, its clear our politicians are failing us.

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