films that make a difference
In a country where people can own two or three homes, these are the stories of those who don’t have one.
All three girls and their families have endured the emotional trauma of being thrown out of their homes. With nowhere to go they are absorbed into the hidden world of bed and breakfasts, hotels, safe houses and temporary accommodation. With all of their belongings locked away in storage the girls are literally left with the clothes they stand in.
Living in overcrowded and cramped conditions often miles away from school and friends, the fate of homeless families falls to anonymous council departments who judge and decide if they deserve to be helped and housed. If they are found “Intentionally Homeless” then the Council can remove them from its homelessness statistics, and no longer has a responsibility to house them beyond 28 days in a B&B. Shelter and other charities have seen that the numbers found “intentionally homeless” have increased considerably since central government instructed Councils to “reduce homelessness”.
Meanwhile the impact on families and children are devastating. The children in particular face isolation, social exclusion and bullying; they may also miss months of schooling.
13 year old Charlotte feels ‘I just wish my family was like everyone else’s”. They have been homeless for 18 months, and are having to rely on the kindness of friends, sleeping in the council house of woman they met in their previous homeless hostel.
9 people are living in a 2 bedroom flat. Charlotte’s mum Lianne was suffering from post-natal depression when the family was made homeless. This condition has been aggravated by prolonged housing problems, so Charlotte’s Dad, has had to give up work to take care of everyone and keep the family together and off the streets.
When the Housing Association becomes aware of their presence their friend is given an ultimatum – Charlotte’s family must leave or everyone will be evicted. With the threat of social services taking Charlotte and her siblings into the care, Lee and Lianne fraught and frantic search for a place to call home takes on a new urgency.
Across the country on the outskirts of Nottingham, 8 year old Chloe is losing the only family home she has ever known. A mix up with housing benefit pushed the family into rent arrears without their knowledge, and resulted in an eviction order. Baffling bureaucracy meant that Mum, Michelle thought that she had headed off the eviction by talking to the courts and getting Housing Benefit to admit their mistake. But then the family returned home to find the all locks changed.
Chloe and her family were given no option but to go to a bed and breakfast over 10 miles away from school family and friends with no way means of transport. Four of them were given two beds in a room with no cooking facilities other than a kettle. Chloe is ‘scared I may never get a house again… and have to stay here forever’
During their time in the bed and breakfast Chloe’s become friends with 15 year old Sarah. Placed miles away from her friends and school there is nothing for Sarah to do but stare out the window of her bare hotel room.
She was looking forward to her GCSE’s but now that has all been ripped out from under her. She has no idea how long they will be there and there is nothing at all for her to do. ‘My friends won’t see me cause they think I’m a low life…, cause they’ve always lived in a house and not in a B&B’
As parents wait to hear on the decisions of council homelessness departments and struggle under great stress to keep their families together, children are left in the middle with familiarity, security and routine all stripped away from them.
Home is something we don’t fully appreciate until it is taken away, its not until this happens that you understand just how important it really is, and how bleak and terrifying life can be with No Home.
"“A brilliant and passionate documentary of the type that I was beginning to think wasn't made any more.""Allison Graham, Radio Times.