BLOG: Bed and Breakfasts are not homes: our Change It! campaign on children's rights and homelessness
Steering Group member Rozita blogs about children's rights, homelessness and why ChangeIt! are campaigning for homes for children.
Did you know thousands of children in England are growing up without a home? In places that are dirty, crowded and unsafe for children. Our new Change It! campaign needs your help to stop this.
Change It! is led by a group of 26 children and young people from all over England, we are aged between 8 to 20 years old and we come from many different backgrounds. Many of us have faced homelessness and grown up in B&Bs or other types of temporary accommodation. That means we know that a B&B is not a good enough home for a child and that’s why we have set up Change it!, a campaign to stop families with children being forced to live in B&Bs for longer than the 6 week legal limit.
Change it! grew out of the See it, Say it, Change it project which started in 2015. Members of our group joined the project and with support from CRAE we submitted a report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child about children’s rights in England as part of the 2016 examination of the UK by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (the UN Committee).
We spoke to nearly a 1000 children in our research for the report including children aged 7 – 11 years old who had been living in B&Bs. Many of the children we spoke to had been living in B&Bs for long periods of times and the conditions they told us about were shocking- they told us about living in places with rats, filthy bathrooms, and no place to play. They told us about feeling constantly stressed and anxious, being bullied in school and being unable to study.
Children have a right to grow up in a warm house, where they feel safe, somewhere with enough room to play, study, and spend time with family. We want to see changes made so that all children have a place to live where they can grow up safe and healthy, in a real home.
In our report we told the UN Committee about these issues and that things must change.In 2016 the UN Committee released their Concluding Observations to the UK Government. They told the Government they needed to stop housing children in poor quality, temporary accommodation for long periods of time.
Housing wasn’t the only issue that came up in our report that was picked out by the UN Committee - other really important issues came up like mental health, violence against children by the police and life in care. But as a group we decided we wanted to focus on housing and we recruited new members into our steering group, especially children who were living in B&B or other types of temporary housing.
We want to make sure the Government listens to us and the UN Committee. This is urgent because more and more children are growing up in B&Bs. In 2016 3,390 families with children were living in B&Bs, more than double the number at the end of 2013 (1,560). This is why Change it! is so important – we are facing a housing crisis but children’s voices are never heard even though their lives are being damaged and they are growing up without a real home.
As a small team, we need the help of other children and young people: have a look at our brand new campaign pack for ideas of how to get involved and sign up to help Change It!
Read coverage of our campaign