A 'SCANDALOUS' number of children will be homeless in our town this Christmas.

Figures published by Shelter reveal Swindon has the second highest number of homeless young people in the south west.

A report from the charity shows 258 under-18s are homeless or living in temporary accommodation in the town.

Bristol is the only place in the region with a higher number at 869.

Michael Keenan, chief development officer at Swindon homeless charity Threshold, said: “It is a sad and shocking situation that in the UK, a wealthy nation, we still have so far to go to eliminate homelessness.”

‘Generation Homeless’ reveals that at the end of March, more than 3,000 youngsters across the region did not have a permanent home.

This is an increase of 55 per cent in the last five years.

Analysis of Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data by Shelter shows 10 children lose their home every day in the south west.

Mr Keenan added the causes behind the high numbers vary. He listed the breakdown of a parental relationship, mental health problems experienced by the children’s carers and the loss of a family’s primary income as factors leading to young people becoming homeless.

Shelter’s report highlights how these children are often then housed in emergency B&Bs and hostels, with families all in one room without space to cook, play or eat their meals. They are often forced to share bathrooms with strangers and this accommodation can be miles from schools, jobs and other friends and families.

“Temporary accommodation for the homeless in Swindon is in very short supply,” said Mr Keenan.

“Children who face homelessness are protected as a priority under law. Swindon Borough Council will act to swiftly accommodate them and while the temporary accommodation may not always be the most desirable, at present the options are not many,” he added.

Across Britain, Shelter predicts 183 children become homeless every day – that's enough to fill more than two double-decker buses, and almost 67,000 over the year.

Aaron Webb, a youth worker at Central Swindon North Parish Council, said: “Being homeless can have a massive impact on the young person.”

This includes children from insecure homes being more likely to suffer health problems in later life compared with children in stable homes.

“Being homeless also affects their schoolwork and relationship building with family members.".

The charity estimates that by tomorrow, 220 more young people will be without a home in the region since the figures were published earlier this month.

A Swindon Borough Council spokesman said: “Swindon is one of the largest urban areas in the south west outside of Bristol, so it is not at all surprising that we are placed high on the list for the region.

“We always seek to balance the needs of families who are homeless with those in high need on the social housing waiting list.

“This means that homeless families will not always go directly into long-term social housing tenancies, but will instead be safely housed on a temporary basis until long-term accommodation becomes available.

“We put a lot of resource into helping people overcome their housing difficulties and a major part of that is preventative – ensuring that people experiencing housing problems do not end up on the streets. The fact that we have been so successful in getting people into temporary accommodation, and reducing the numbers of rough sleepers in Swindon, is testament to that."

Shelter Bristol hub manager Penny Walster said: “The fact 10 children in the south west become homeless every day is a scandalous figure, and sharp reminder that political promises about tackling homelessness must be turned into real action.

“Day in, day out we see the devastating impact the housing emergency is having on children across the region. Many are being uprooted from their friends, while others are forced to live in cramped B&Bs and go to bed at night scared by the sound of strangers outside.

“Every child has the right to a safe home and if we act now, our frontline advisers can support more homeless families in the south west to get to a better place."