Published: 00:01, 06 December 2017
Nearly 2,000 children in Kent will be homeless on Christmas Day, according to a national charity.
A Shelter report described the figures as part of a "national scandal", as it struggles to deal with the highest numbers of youngsters aged under 18 without a permanent roof over their heads in a decade.
Medway tops the list with 619 homeless children, followed by Ashford with 221, Dartford with 189, and Thanet with 187.
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Swale was also among the worst areas for youngsters living in temporary accommodation (168), followed by Dover (104), Maidstone (92), Gravesham (76), Canterbury (64), Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells (both 59), and Tonbridge and Malling (35).
Shelter says not having a permanent home can affect a child’s mental and physical health and lead to their school work suffering.
An investigation it carried among people living in emergency B&Bs and hostels found every family living in a single room, with 25% having no access to a kitchen and 50% having to share toilet and bathroom facilities.
More than a third of parents also had to share a bed with their children.
LISTEN: Kent children homeless at Christmas
“Many of us will spend Christmas day enjoying all of the festive traditions we cherish, but sadly it’ll be a different story for those children hidden away in cramped B&Bs or hostel rooms,” said Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive.
“Imagine living in a noisy strange place full of people you don’t know, and waking up exhausted from having no choice but to share a bed with your siblings or parents.”
Due to the worsening housing crisis, Shelter says in the last year alone 61% of the families who used its frontline services were homeless or on the brink of losing their home.
Shelter spokesman Kate Wallis said: "It's a combination of a couple of things like the lack of affordable homes being built across the country and the welfare cuts and freezing of housing benefit.
"The lack of building homes is affecting Kent as much as anywhere else.
"The problems are to an extent universal.
"Looking at the solutions in Kent that's going to be different to in London or Manchester because we can keep people local but we've got to find ways of supporting these people.
"It's a national scandal."
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