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Barnardos Calls for Better Standards of Emergency Accommodation for Homeless Families

As the monthly homelessness figures are released today, Barnardos is calling on the government to address the standard of emergency accommodation in Ireland. The growing number of children and families living in emergency accommodation, experiencing trauma as a result, is something the government must take immediate action to address. Sub-standard accommodation is only adding to the difficult situation they find themselves in.

Staff across our services, throughout the country, report that children entering emergency accommodation are routinely experiencing considerable damaging trauma at vital times in their lives. This trauma stems from children being suddenly uprooted from their homes, friends and communities, often forced to move schools, and being placed into overcrowded and unsuitable accommodation. This frequently involves sharing single rooms with multiple siblings and parents, with little no amenities, even to cook or store food, long distances from their homes for potentially long and uncertain periods of time.

The longer they spend within this type of emergency accommodation the bigger an impact it can have on their immediate wellbeing and future development. Staff have stated that spending long periods in emergency accommodation can lead to children developing increased anxiety, becoming hyper alert and struggling with behavior regulation.

Suzanne Connolly, Barnardos CEO says: “The current standard of emergency accommodation is all too often unacceptable for the children and families we support living there, failing to match what should be the minimum standard expected to enable children to grow and develop.”

For parents entering emergency accommodation, having to suddenly to move their families from homes to one room units in unknown area for unknown period, can be hugely stressful. Generally, we know that parenting in emergency accommodation, a cramped and unfit environment can be exceptionally difficult. It can exacerbate existing additional adversities and can preoccupy parent’s focus, unfortunately to the detriment of children.

Parents have told staff they are fearful of the damage living in emergency accommodation is having on their children, for example the lack of privacy and space to socialize for older children, and the lack of space for development activities such as learning to crawl or walk for very young children.

The latest statistics for Dublin family homelessness (which makes up approximately 70% of family homelessness in Ireland) shows that more than one in five families in emergency accommodation were there for more than 2 years (21%, up from 16% compared to same period 12 months earlier) and nearly half had been there for more than 12 months (49%, up from 37% compared to the same period 12 months earlier), a huge period of time for a child, a large portion of their actual childhoods.

The government is not doing enough to improve the lives of children living in emergency accommodation. Efforts must be made and actions taken to mitigate or minimize some of the harm these children might suffer by taking action to improve the standard and conditions for children living in emergency accommodation, because childhood lasts a lifetime.

  • Barnardos are working with a mother living in emergency accommodation in a single room for almost two years with three teenage boys. The space is extremely cramped and there is routine worry about the boys having to be outside for long periods because of that.
  • One mother recently described to Barnardos staff being terrified because she feels her emergency accommodation is unsafe. She is really worried that her young baby crying is going to upset other residents and that she will be asked to leave. Her ability to make food for her young child is severely limited as there are no cooking facilities in her unit and having to wash clothes is exceptionally difficult.


Notes to Editor:    

For further information, please contact:  Barnardos Press Office: [email protected]  / 086 0445966    
Facebook: barnardosireland  
Twitter: @Barnardos_IRL   
Instagram: @barnardos_irl   

About Barnardos

Barnardos’ mission is to deliver services and work with families, communities, and our partners to transform the lives of vulnerable children who are affected by adverse childhood experiences. Because childhood lasts a lifetime  

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