Homeless children in England living in shipping containers, hostels — Commissioner’s report

A pedestrian walks past a bus shelter where the belongings of a homeless person are stored on High Street opposite Windsor Castle as pedestrians walk by in Windsor, west of London, on February 2, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 21 August 2019

Homeless children in England living in shipping containers, hostels — Commissioner’s report

  • Rough sleeping in the capital rose by 18% over the last year, hitting a decade high of 8,855 people, according to a Mayor of London funded database

LONDON: Children in England are sleeping in converted shipping containers and rooming houses, environments that are often dangerous and far from their schools, a report by the Children’s Commissioner for England found on Wednesday.
Homelessness has been increasing in England for nearly a decade amid rising private rents, a freeze on welfare benefits and a shortage of social housing.
The report estimated that homeless children in England could number more than 210,000, including 120,000 officially homeless and another 90,000 ‘sofa-surfing’ with family members.
“It is a scandal that a country as prosperous as ours is leaving tens of thousands of families in temporary accommodation for long periods of time,” said Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, in a statement.
“Something has gone very wrong with our housing system.”
The report warns of the dangers of precarious living situations for children, such as shared bathrooms in hostels, which could create “intimidating and potentially unsafe environments.”
Repurposed shipping containers used as housing were often overcrowded and could lead to antisocial behavior, it said, while thousands of children live in so-called ‘temporary,’ accommodation for as long as a year.
“This report is a damning indictment of the government’s catastrophic failure to address the housing emergency,” said Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity, Shelter.
“We constantly hear from struggling families forced to accept unsuitable, and sometimes downright dangerous accommodation...The devastating impact this has on a child’s development and well-being cannot be overstated.”
Rough sleeping in the capital rose by 18% over the last year, hitting a decade high of 8,855 people, according to a Mayor of London funded database. Most of those had never before resorted to bedding down in parks or doorways.
Responding to the report, a government spokesman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation “No child should ever be without a roof over their head, and we are working to ensure all families have a safe place to stay.”
“We have invested £1.2 billion to tackle all types of homelessness, and we are working closely with councils across the country to reduce the number of families in temporary accommodation.”
The report warned that households falling behind on rent or mortgage payments could put another 375,000 children in England at risk of homelessness in the coming years.


Greece: Migrant child killed in boat collision

Updated 42 min 39 sec ago

Greece: Migrant child killed in boat collision

  • The crash occurred before sunrise Wednesday in the heavily patrolled waters of the east Aegean Sea
THESSALONIKI, Greece: Greek authorities say a coast guard patrol boat collided with a dinghy carrying migrants to the island of Kos from Turkey on Wednesday, leaving a child dead and another person missing.

Officials on Kos say that 31 people have been rescued following the collision, in an effort assisted by private boats and the European Union border protection agency Frontex. The circumstances of the collision aren't immediately clear.

The crash occurred before sunrise Wednesday in the heavily patrolled waters of the east Aegean Sea.