3,800+ kids began new school year with no home

Barnardos calls for Government action
  • Deborah Condon

Over 3,800 children were homeless last month, the children's charity, Barnardos, has highlighted.

According to the organisation, which offers support and services to children up to the age of 18 and their families, while many children were focused on starting a new school year, ‘far too many were preoccupied with the harsh realities of living in emergency accommodation'.

"Last month, at a time when children should be preoccupied with new teachers, new classrooms and catching up with friends after summer break, for 3,829 children, homelessness was weighing heavily on their shoulders," commented Barbardos' head of advocacy, June Tinsley.

She noted that for those who are homeless, or are at risk of becoming homeless, ‘school can offer a welcome respite from the anxiety and uncertainty at home'.

"Many children living in emergency accommodation find the school day becomes their only chance for normalcy, away from a hub or hotel room," she explained.

Ms Tinsley said that while Barnardos welcomed some of the housing measures announced in Budget 2019, Government policy ‘is not working fast enough to slow the slide of families into homelessness'.

"The figures attest to this as the volume of families exiting homelessness (45) is far less than the number presenting as homeless (207).

"The ongoing staggering investment to house families in hotels, B&Bs or hubs is unsustainable, and institutionalises families as they are not a suitable home for a child," she insisted.

The charity called on the Government to put more preventative measures in place to stop more children from becoming homeless, such as rent indexing and security of tenure protections

"Social housing construction must also be ramped up to end the overreliance on private landlords for public housing. Children need ambitious, imaginative and decisive action from their Government if they are to see change before the start of the next school year," Ms Tinsley added.


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