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Shelter Cymru highlights Christmas homelessness

A staggering 1,600 children in Wales will be homeless and living in temporary accommodation this Christmas, according to figures released today by Shelter Cymru.

The number of families living in B&Bs and hostels – widely considered the worst type of accommodation – has increased by 46 per cent over the last four years, according to the charity. Families are often squashed into one room with little space to cook, play or eat their meals; are forced to share bathrooms with strangers; and the accommodation is often located miles away from schools, jobs and loved ones.

Youth homelessness is also a serious concern with more than 3,000 young people aged 16 to 24 becoming homeless in the last year.

Shelter Cymru is calling on every political party to put housing at the top of its domestic agenda, and is asking the public to support its urgent Christmas appeal. The charity said that over the last year in Wales a child became homeless every two hours, while every three hours a young person aged 16 to 24 became homeless.

John Puzey, director of Shelter Cymru, said: ‘Living in temporary accommodation is incredibly difficult for anyone but it is especially hard on children and young people. Every day our services work with families who are living in horrible conditions, often single rooms, for months on end. Parents are spending hours of their day taking their children to school on public transport, and trying to cook a decent dinner with minimal facilities.

‘We need to make sure that all political parties ensure that the benefits system supports families and young people. We welcome that the Welsh Government has made homelessness and housing need a priority. This must be continued.

‘We know that experiencing homelessness as a child or young person can have lifelong impacts. We need your help to stop this from happening. Every donation will mean that Shelter Cymru can be there for the children and young people who need us this Christmas.’

To donate to Shelter Cymru’s urgent Christmas appeal please visit www.sheltercymru.org.uk/donate.

Reacting to the news, Community Housing Cymru (CHC) stressed its commitment to tackling homelessness and reducing the number of families in temporary accommodation.

Will Atkinson, policy and external affairs manager at CHC, said: ‘Welsh Government has made a welcome commitment to ending homelessness, with vital funding going into outreach services supporting people off the streets.

‘Housing associations have a critical role to play, providing half of the supported accommodation in Wales. To end homelessness though, we need to all work together and build strong partnerships between housing associations, local authorities, and public services to end evictions into homelessness and reduce the number of families needing to live in temporary accommodation.’

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