A new effort to more fully understand children’s experiences of living in temporary accommodation in Scotland will be co-led by a UCL researcher.
Today, there are a record number of 9,595 children living in temporary accommodation in the country, often stuck for years because of the lack of family-sized social homes for them to move into.
The research, co-led by Professor Lakhanpaul (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health) and Dr Nadia Svirydzenka (De Montfort University, Leicester), has been commissioned by the homelessness charity, Shelter Scotland.
The study aims to put children’s voices at the centre of the research and explore how children (aged 0 to 18) live their lives in temporary accommodation, through their own words, stories, and drawings. Parents will also add their reflections on the impact of temporary accommodation on their children’s physical and mental health, social relationships, and overall development.
Professor Lakhanpaul said: "The importance of the home on child health and wellbeing is often underestimated. There are increasing numbers of children living in temporary accommodation, but their voices are often not heard.
"It is essential that we hear from children directly, and not just their parents or carers. This project will allow us to hear from the children first hand so that we can ensure action takes place to improve their lives, experiences and future opportunities."
The research will be used by Shelter Scotland to encourage the Scottish Government and local authorities to build the social homes required in Scotland, to ensure that children and their families are able to move on quickly from temporary accommodation and into a permanent home.
It will also help to make policy recommendations on how temporary accommodation in Scotland can be improved to reduce the negative impact it has on children’s lives.
Dr Svirydzenka said: "Putting children’s experiences front and centre of a research inquiry into their experiences in temporary accommodation aims to shift how policy and systems around the child see their agency and ability to narrate their own experiences. Children need to have the power to speak to their rights for a home that allows them to be safe, healthy, and educated. It is a time we listen, or it will cost us in the future."
Alison Watson, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: "We know that life in temporary accommodation is disruptive to health and wellbeing, it can impact on education and relationships. With a record number of children living in temporary accommodation, this research will reveal, in the children’s own words, any positive aspects of temporary accommodation but also the significant and damaging impact that it can have.
"There is a housing emergency in Scotland, with 45 children becoming homeless every day. It’s important for us to better understand the impact that being put into temporary accommodation is having on children. A generation of children in Scotland are being stripped of their right to grow up in a secure, safe home and are unable to achieve their full potential. This is unacceptable.
"Those in power must understand that social housing shouldn’t be considered an expense but rather an investment. With more than 9,000 kids in Scotland with nowhere to call home, delivering social housing is ultimately investing in the future."
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