A LEEDS MP has expressed concerns after a charity revealed 554 children in Yorkshire will wake up homeless this Christmas.
Shelter has launched an urgent festival appeal after its investigation revealed the harrowing effects of homelessness on children.
Greg Mulholland Leeds North West MP said: “Christmas should be a lovely and very jovial time of the year, but sadly, Shelter’s figures show that many families will be having the exact opposite experience.
“These are 554 children who deserve a lot more, and it is beyond heart-wrenching to think they will be spending Christmas Day away from a proper home, away from a lot of close family and friends, and possibly suffering from mental health problems.”
Shelter also showed nationally, the number of homeless families living in bed and breakfast accommodation in England has almost doubled in three years.
Figures from the debt charity StepChange show during the first six months of this year the average person in touch with the organisation in Leeds owed £8,892 on credit cards, loans and other unsecured debts.
Matthew Nice, operations director at St George’s Crypt, a homeless charity in Leeds, said families often find themselves in these situations “through job and debt issues and falling behind on rent”.
He said if somebody loses their job or is facing high debts with no possibility of paying them then the situation can quickly spiral out of control.
However Mr Nice added that according to the latest figures he had seen there had been no families in B&B accommodation in the city over the last six months.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “No child should have to go through the trauma of losing their home, so it’s heart-breaking to think that over 500 in Yorkshire and the Humber will wake up homeless this Christmas.
“In the 21st century it cannot be right that homeless children are experiencing severe emotional distress, facing three hour round trips to school and having to eat their dinner on the floor.
“These days it only takes one thing to push a family into a downward spiral which can end in homelessness, and we’re bracing ourselves for an increase in demand from families who desperately need our help to keep a roof over their heads.
“Our advisers will be working tirelessly to support people who find themselves homeless this Christmas but it’s getting harder and harder for us to be there for every family that needs us,” he added.
To support Shelter’s emergency Christmas appeal people should visit the website shelter.org.uk or text SHELTER to 70060 to donate £3.