True Vision

films that make a difference

Born Homeless

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26 minutes
Sunnah Khan & Jess Stevenson
Sunnah Khan & Jess Stevenson
Executive Producer:
Brian Woods

Homelessness is on the rise in the UK, but nobody knows how many pregnant women are facing the possibility of having their baby without a home to go back to. In this intimate, observational True Vision film for Dispatches, we meet the pregnant mums with no place to call home.  

In collaboration with the Royal College of Midwives, True Vision conducted an exclusive survey of midwives, to get a sense of the scale of the problem.

This film follows three mums - two of whom are heavily pregnant - experiencing evictions, overcrowding and the reality of living in temporary accommodation for years on end.

This is their story, of three mums bringing life into a very uncertain world.

‘One of the things that they always taught in social work is the welfare of the child is paramount. You put the welfare of the child first before anything else. I just can’t believe that it’s the council, that is letting them down.’ Samantha Head-Borkar

We meet Sam at 39 weeks pregnant the day before she is about to be evicted. With the threat of being out on the street looming, she queues outside Lambeth Council before it opens, hoping to finally speak to a housing officer.

The law says councils must work “quickly and proactively”, agree a personalised housing plan AND find suitable housing for vulnerable people threatened with homelessness. But none of that has happened in Sam’s case. She first approached Lambeth for help three months ago, but since then her housing officer has been hard to pin down.

After hours of waiting, when Sam is finally placed in a hostel and handed the keys, she is shocked by what she discovers.

‘I just feel so frustrated. It’s broken me, I can’t handle this any more’ Temilade Abimbola

When we meet Temi, she is heavily pregnant and living with her two children in a one room bedsit in a hostel with other homeless mums. 

Temi moved to Ireland from London three years ago to be closer to her family and has been sleeping on sofas and living in hostels ever since. When the new baby arrives, she is entitled to a bigger property. However has been told she may be moved outside of London away from her sisters and cousins, who are a big support. 

We join her on a tumultuous journey to finally escape severe overcrowding and obtain enough space for her two children and new baby boy, without being moved hundreds of miles away. We join her as she makes desperate pleas to the council and even stages a sit-in at the hospital. But will Temi’s plea for support be heard?

‘It’s really lonely and it is daunting not knowing how long you’re gonna have to live in this situation.’ Kady Channer

Kady became homeless when she was three months pregnant after her marriage broke down. After seeking help from the council, her and her daughter Kayann (now 5) were placed in tiny one bed flat. 

Understanding it to be temporary accommodation Kady explains that she is confused that over a year and a half later she is still there - sharing a bed with her two young children. Feeling misinformed by the council, all Kady can do is bid for properties, but as just one of 10,000 households on the waiting list, it can feel hopeless.

Council Statements

Lambeth Council 

A Lambeth council spokesperson said: “Sam was helped by the council in securing suitable hostel accommodation for three nights before being to being quickly moved to a council owned self-contained unit. The council then helped her secure a flat of her own on secure two-year lease. 

“She was housed by the council before she became homeless, was in communication with the council throughout and a significant amount of time and effort was put into supporting her. An appointment with a housing officer was offered the day after she first contacted the council. 

“We will now review her case to see if there are any lessons to be learnt.

“Despite the huge strain on affordable housing, and sustained cuts to council funding, we are proud of having a very good homeless prevention service, which helps hundreds of people a year find suitable homes.”

Lambeth council had helped more than 1,250 households avoid homelessness and resolved their housing issues in the 12-months to September 2019. 

Hackney Council 

A spokesperson said: “Our staff work hard to help residents facing homelessness to find suitable accommodation in incredibly challenging circumstances. 

“Hackney is facing an unprecedented housing crisis, with 13,000 families now on our growing housing waiting list, 3,000 households living in hostels, bed and breakfasts and other temporary accommodation - which cost £9.3m last year - and fewer social properties becoming available every year.

"There has been a 40% increase in the number of households approaching us for help with homelessness since 2018 and we are now unable to offer temporary accommodation to all families within the borough - 1,200 are currently living outside Hackney. We have worked closely with Temi to find temporary accommodation that meets her needs.

 “We have an ambitious council home building programme, but the extreme demand and lack of properties becoming available means that we need to prioritise residents with serious disabilities and vulnerabilities, and the current wait for a permanent three-bedroom social housing property is over eight years. We will continue to support Temi to find a longer term, stable home.”

Born Homeless

Channel Four Dispatches & Royal College of MidwivesSurvey Results

Help and Support

- If you are worried about you are struggling with housing or homelessness, Shelter offer advice and support across the country. Visit their website at,
- If you are unsure of your housing rights or would like to appeal a placement or housing decision, you can also contact your local public interest law centre.
- If you have children ages 0-5 and are concerned about your housing situation or the health and welfare of your child, contact your local children’s centre. They may be able to refer you to relevant local organisations.
- If you feel that you could benefit from extra support during pregnancy you may be able to access one of the many voluntary Doulas services across the UK. You can ask to be referred to Doulas Without Borders by a midwife, support worker, social worker or community member and they may then be able to refer you to a suitable local Doulas.

For more information on their work and their service, visit their website at https://www.doulaswithoutborde... or ot make a referral visit, https://www.doulaswithoutborde...make-a-referral