HUNDREDS of signatures – in the form of letters to Santa – have been presented to the Housing Minister, Margaret Burgess MSP, today (19 December) urging the Scottish Government to introduce minimum standards for homes housing homeless children and their families.
The presentation of the petition comes after leading housing and homelessness charity, Shelter Scotland, took to the streets earlier this week to highlight the plight of homeless children forced to live in cold, damp and sometimes dangerous temporary accommodation. Before the presentation, campaigners gathered further signatures from politicians arriving at Parliament.
Shelter Scotland says that over 5,300 homeless children in Scotland will wake up on Christmas day in temporary accommodation such as B&B hostels or temporary flats, accommodation that is too often unsuitable for children.
Gordon MacRae, Head of Communications and Policy at Shelter Scotland, said:
“Scotland’s chronic housing shortage is forcing too many homeless children live in cold, damp and sometimes dangerous housing, all because their family is forced to accept bad temporary accommodation. But if there is will on all sides then together we can end Scotland’s housing crisis for good.
“We are pleased that the Housing Minister has taken the time to accept our petition. With less than a week to go until Christmas Day we urge the Minister and the Scottish Government to not delay further the introduction of legally enforceable, minimum standards in temporary accommodation. In doing so, they can ensure that by next Christmas every child in Scotland has the right to not only a safe and secure home, but also a much brighter future.”
According to Shelter Scotland children living in bad housing are almost twice as likely to suffer from poor health as other children. In the first half of the year 6,779 families with children faced homelessness.
Accepting the petition, Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess said:
“At this time of year, with cold weather taking hold and with Christmas fast approaching those with no home are at the forefront of our minds.
“With our homelessness legislation coming into force from December 31, I believe we are ending this year in a strong position to make a real difference to the lives of homeless households and homeless children in the coming period.
“However, we are not complacent, which is why I have invited Shelter to work with the Scottish Government and COSLA to build up our evidence base on the standards of temporary accommodation with a view to ensuring good standards are upheld. Furthermore, we also have in place unsuitable accommodation standards which safeguard children against being placed in poor quality temporary accommodation.
“Going forward, I want Scotland to be seen as a beacon of good practice in preventing and tackling homelessness.”
There are currently no national standards for temporary accommodation. Shelter Scotland is calling on children to have the legal right to a bed of their own, enough room to play and do homework and a safe and secure place to call their own.
Visit shelterscotland.org to sign the online petition or make a donation to support Shelter Scotland’s work to prevent homelessness and give a child a warm, secure home this Christmas.
Notes to Editors:
- Shelter Scotland provides expert support services, online advice and a free national helpline for everyone facing housing and homelessness difficulties. For advice and support visit shelterscotland.org or call 0808 800 4444.
- Spokespeople are available for interview – call the media office on 0844 515 2442. An ISDN line is available for broadcast interviews.
- Follow Shelter Scotland on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/shelterinscotland Twitter – http://twitter.com/shelterscotland
Shelter Scotland believes everyone should have a home. We help people find and keep a home. We campaign for decent housing for all.
Contact: Shelter Scotland