Campaigners gift-wrap house to highlight rising number of homeless children

Gift-wrapped homeHousing campaigners gift-wrapped a full-size affordable home in a bid to raise awareness of the plight of homeless children in Scotland this Christmas.

According to charity Shelter Scotland, almost 5,000 children across the country will wake up homeless on Christmas Day – representing a 15 per cent increase from last year.

The charity says it’s a mark of shame that in 21st Century Scotland so many young people will face the prospect of Christmas in a place they can’t call home. Campaigners say that most will also face uncertainty into the New Year while stuck in temporary accommodation for weeks and months, if not years on end.

The gift-wrapped house in Edinburgh belongs to Link Housing Association which, in the last year, has completed 218 new or improved homes for social and intermediate rent and has established a significant development programme which will deliver another 1,200 during the next three years.

Shelter Scotland says to address the problem and meet demand for housing, Scotland needs to build at least 12,000 affordable homes every year.

Alison Watson, deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said: “The fact that almost 5,000 children will wake up homeless on Christmas Day is a mark of shame in 21st Century Scotland.

“This gift-wrapped house represents every child’s wish for a safe and secure place to call home – a place where they can play, enjoy family life, learn and thrive.

“Through our work with families and children, we know that many of Scotland’s homeless children will be going to bed on Christmas Eve with this wish. Sadly, for most their wish will not be answered in time for this Christmas, but it’s by no means too late to help them.

“We urge all of Scotland’s political parties to include ambitious targets for new affordable housing in their manifestos for next year’s Holyrood election campaigns and bring hope to those without a permanent place to call home.”

There were 35,764 homeless applications in Scotland in 2014-15. Latest figures show that there are 10,666 households in temporary accommodation, including 2,805 households with children.

Across Scotland, 150,000 families and individuals are on council waiting lists for a home.

Alison Watson, added: “Families with children can spend many weeks, months or even years stuck in temporary accommodation waiting for a house they can call home. Being homeless is particularly detrimental to children’s health, life chances and education, with recent research from the Commission on Housing and Wellbeing showing homeless children miss on average 55 school days each year.

“We simply have to do more to make sure no child is homeless at Christmas or at any other time.”



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