Appeals are being made by a leading childrens' charity for dedicated supports to assist homeless children.
The latest release from the Department of Housing reveals the number of children living in homeless accommodation in April was 3,794, which is a decrease of just 27 children compared to figures released in March. While any decrease is welcomed, Barnardos urges the government to ensure that children who continue to experience the trauma of homelessness have access to dedicated supports including family support workers.
Suzanne Connolly, Barnardos CEO said: “At Barnardos we see first-hand the affects that living in homeless accommodation can have on children. They are impacted emotionally by not having their own space to play and explore. The practicalities of doing homework are particularly challenging with no space to write or read quietly. Social development is impacted as afterschool activities are limited. Older children, particularly teenagers, have to grapple with that and whether or not they tell their friends and peers about their living circumstances and do not have the opportunity to bring their friends home."
She said: “But it is not just children who are affected, parents are stressed trying to manage in cramped and unsuitable environments leading to parental mental health difficulties. This can mean their capacity to parent can be restricted. We know of one parent who spent two months in one room before being moved with her four children to a two bedroom apartment in a neighbouring county. Every morning she gets up at 5am to travel with her children to get them to school on time. In the afternoon she has to wait with her three children until her eldest daughter finishes secondary school at half three."
Ms Connolly said:“The government cannot continue to allow families languish in such living circumstances. In the absence of real social housing output the Government must provide funding for services and support workers to help families cope and manage these circumstances. The infrastructure needed to support families living in emergency accommodation already exists in the community. But this infrastructure needs resourcing in order to adequately deal with the number of families experiencing homelessness”.