Research: Desperate to Escape - the experiences of homeless families in emergency accommodation

By: Jenny Pennington and Deborah Garvie  Published: November 2016


Fifty years since Shelter was first founded, the country is once again in the grip of a housing crisis, with a new family becoming homeless every 10 minutes. In this report homeless parents tell us what it’s like to live in emergency accommodation: how it affects their day-to-day life, and the impact it is having on them and their children.

Summary

The devastating results of our housing shortage are now being felt by over 120,000 homeless children in Britain - the equivalent of four children in every school.

Homeless children in ‘temporary accommodation’ live in a variety of places: from flats to mobile homes. But as things get even worse, more and more homeless families are forced to live in one room in ‘emergency accommodation’, sharing facilities with other families. This type of accommodation ranges from homeless bed and breakfasts (B&Bs), to cheap hotels, to hostels, to large houses filled with a family in each bedroom, sharing kitchens and bathrooms with strangers.

Five years ago – 5,731 children were living in this type of shared accommodation. Now there are 12,903 - more than twice as many.

This report draws on the latest government statistics and interviews with twenty-five homeless parents, who shared their experiences of living in emergency accommodation: how it affects their day-to-day life, and the impact it is having on them and their children.