Homeless charity Shelter revealed yesterday that tens of thousands of children will spend Christmas living in temporary accommodation — bed and breakfast houses and hostels — with whole families crammed into one room, sometimes three to a bed, with no cooking facilities and shared toilets.
The charity carried out a study into the devastating effects of the government’s austerity programme by talking to some of the victims.
Among them were twins Ellie and Amy, aged 15.
Amy said: “We’re living in a B&B. It’s a small room with five people living in it. It’s got one double bed and one single bed.
"It’s not even a proper bed – it’s a camp bed. Three people sleep in the double bed with one person at the bottom and two people at the top.”
Sarah, 40, lives in one room in a B&B with her husband and children, including her three-month old baby.
She said: “We sleep on the bed, they play on the bed, we eat on the bed. There’s just no place for anything.”
Natalie, 31, and her children have been in a hostel for over a year – despite a statutory six-week limit on the time families are forced to stay in temporary accommodation.
She said: “There was no heating here, so me and the kids were constantly getting ill. It was ridiculous.
"Watching your kids emotionally go through it can make you feel quite inadequate as a mother, a parent. You feel guilty.
"Just watching your kids suffer. You know, they suffer socially, they suffer at school, they suffer at an emotional level.”
Ellie said: “It’s hard to concentrate at school because there’s the worry about coming home. It’s just stressful.
"There’s nowhere we can relax or get any privacy. Before it was much better. We had our own home right near school and right near our friends.
"We all had our own rooms and a cooker and a fridge. We could eat proper meals. I just want it to be like it was before.”
Shelter said Britain was suffering its highest level of child homelessness for a decade with 140 families becoming homeless every day – and that the problem will worsen through the Tory-created housing crisis.
The charity's head Polly Neate said: “It’s a national scandal that the number of homeless children in Britain has risen every year for the last decade.
"No child should have to spend Christmas without a home – let alone 128,000 children.”
Labour has pledged to introduce a national house-building programme to create 250,000 social housing homes a year once elected.
Shadow housing minister Melanie Onn said: “It is heartbreaking that 128,000 children will wake up on Christmas morning with no place to call home. The Conservative government is failing them.
“This shames us all. Ministers must back Labour’s national plan to end this homelessness crisis.”