My son is one of Britain's 135,000 homeless children

Waking up at the crack of dawn, unwrapping presents, watching telly with my family – that’s the sort of Christmas I loved as a child growing up in Harringay, North London. But it’s something I can only dream of giving my son Ethan, 13.

We’re homeless you see, living in temporary accommodation in Hackney, East London. So far we’ve been housed in a series of squalid, run-down places. Even now, we never know how long it will be before we’re evicted.

I try to put on a brave face, mainly for my boy, but I’m frightened. A report launched by Shelter today has revealed that a child is made homeless every eight minutes. That means a staggering 135,000 children in Britain – children just like my Ethan – are homeless and living in temporary accommodation.

Shelter tell me it’s the highest number in 12 years. As a mum, it breaks my heart to think of little children across the country not knowing if they’ll wake up homeless on Christmas day.

I never expected to end up like this. But I was evicted from the flat I was renting privately in Hackney because my landlord wanted to sell it. I tried everything to find another private property to rent. Ethan had just won a mathematics scholarship for a prestigious grammar school in nearby Tower Hamlets so it was vital we stay in London. But because I have health problems and am on sickness benefits, I couldn’t find anything.

Ethan, who was only 11 at the time, tried so hard to be strong for me. ‘It’s OK mum, we won’t be here long,’ he told me.

In the end, I went to the council and Ethan and I were placed in a tiny room in a run-down hostel. It was so small you literally just had a path of maybe a foot walking round the bed. There was just an electric hob, and there wasn’t even drinking water. I had to wash mine and Ethan’s dishes in the shower.

Ethan, who was only 11 at the time, tried so hard to be strong for me. ‘It’s OK mum, we won’t be here long,’ he told me.

If only he’d been right. For the next 18 or so months, we shared that horrific hostel with criminals, drug users and sex workers. It was terrifying.

And no place for a child.

As always Ethan tried to stay upbeat. His bravery made me proud, but I felt so guilty too. It should have been me protecting him, making him feel safe, not the other way round.

That’s when I got in touch with Shelter. They lodged a complaint to the council and eventually I was given a two-bedroom flat as temporary accommodation. In the summer it wasn’t too bad, but once the winter hit we started to notice there was no damp proofing on the building. When it was raining outside, the wall would literally feel wet inside.

My son’s room was so bad that everything was covered in mould, so I had to move him out of there. I’m asthmatic and had previously been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Now I was having asthma attacks so bad I could barely breathe.

During all of this, Ethan was acting as my carer. While he tries to take each day in his stride and is getting great grades at school, I know living like this is hard for him. We’re still in the same flat, and while the council have made some improvements to Ethan’s room, the exterior still hasn’t been damp proofed, so I’m worried about how we’ll cope when the really cold weather kicks in.

Our case worker Wafa gives us hope though. She’s fighting to find us a permanent home. I don’t want a palace, just a stable base so I can get back on my feet, hold my head up high and give my son a bright future.

To donate to Shelter’s urgent Christmas appeal please visit or text SHELTER to 70030 to donate £3. Texts cost your standard network rate + £3. Shelter receives 100% of your donation.

Source: Read Full Article