Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point
On Air
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Tuesday, September 8, 1998 Published at 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK


Health

Children of misery

Homelessness can have big impact on health and education


BBC Breakfast News on the Shelter report
Thousands children are growing up with health and educational disadvantages because they are either homeless or live in poor housing, according to a report by Shelter.

The charity says 32,000 children were living in temporary accommodation as of March this year.

At least 70,000 faced homelessness last year.

The number of homeless families Shelter saw in England last year rose by over 30%.

Some 9,500 - more than half - were either homeless or at risk of being homeless.

More than 2,500 families were living in homes which were unsuitable for children.

And around 100 families had nowhere to go. The reasons included family breakdown, unemployment and rent arrears.

Poor housing

Shelter's report, Growing Up Homeless, says that homelessness and poor housing conditions can have a big impact on children's health and educational prospects.


[ image: Damp conditions can cause long-term health problems]
Damp conditions can cause long-term health problems
For example, damp housing can cause respiratory illness, stomach pains and fatigue.

The National Council of Voluntary Child Care Organisations say babies born in temporary accommodation tend to be underweight and more vulnerable to infections.

There have been many previous reports on the effect of temporary accommodation on children's health.

Lack of room to play in bed and breakfast accommodation can, for example, lead to children becoming withdrawn and inhibited.

The effect of moving from temporary home to temporary home can also impact on education.

Barnardos says children from temporary accommodation are often considered outsiders and face problems of bullying at school and difficulty in keeping up with their studies.

Unacceptable

Shelter's report is being distributed to schools, local authorities and other interest groups.

Chris Holmes, Shelter's director, said: "It is unacceptable that in the last decade of this millennium over half a million children have already suffered homelessness.

"This damaging legacy will consign many to grow up the forgotten, socially excluded victims of our housing problems."

The government says it is thinking of asking councils to find permanent accommodation for all homeless families.

A consultation paper on homelessness is expected before the end of the year.

Rough sleepers

Meanwhile, the government has announced a £34m package for rough sleepers and single homeless people living outside London.

The money comes after the Social Exclusion Unit's report on rough sleeping earlier this year.

Health minister Tessa Jowell said health authorities would be working with other agencies to identify rough sleepers' special needs.

The Department of Health will be announcing an increase in funding for the Homeless Mentally Ill Initiative shortly.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


Health Contents

Background Briefings
Medical notes
Relevant Stories

27 Aug 98†|†Health
Young homeless men 40 times more likely to die

17 Aug 98†|†Health
Manchester opens street surgery

07 Jul 98†|†Latest News
Homeless need better coordinated health services





Internet Links

Shelter

Department of Health


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Disability in depth

Spotlight: Bristol inquiry

Antibiotics: A fading wonder

Mental health: An overview

Alternative medicine: A growth industry

The meningitis files

Long-term care: A special report

Aids up close

From cradle to grave

NHS reforms: A guide

NHS Performance 1999

From Special Report
NHS in crisis: Special report

British Medical Association conference '99

Royal College of Nursing conference '99