English councils placing care leavers in ‘squalid’ bed and breakfasts

Barnardo’s director stayed in a B&B where care leavers were placed, describing it as 'squalid and isolating'

Photo: REX/Cultura (Posed by model)

Over half of England’s councils have placed care leavers in ‘squalid’ bed and breakfast accommodation for 28 days or more, figures released by Barnardo’s have revealed.

To highlight the problem, the charity’s director, Puja Darbari, spent a night in a bed and breakfast (B&B) where care leavers were placed. She described it as a “squalid and isolating environment” and a “horrible experience”.

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Nearly three quarters (73%) of local authorities placed care leavers in B&B accommodation during 2013-2014, with 46% doing so repeatedly.

This meant over 800 care leavers in England were placed in B&B accommodation, according to Freedom of Information Act requests carried out by the charity.

The government’s own guidance on using B&Bs states they should only be used in emergency situations and are unsuitable for young people.

Darbari said: “Having spent the night in a B&B where care leavers have been placed, and having experienced awful conditions, I am horrified that this is how we treat vulnerable young people in desperate need of a place to stay.”

She continued: “From the noise of people right outside the door to the pest control box in the room and sirens wakening me in the middle of the night, it really was a horrible experience.

“I’m a grown woman and I was scared. I can’t begin to imagine how a 16 year old would cope in that situation.”

The room Darbari stayed in had a damp problem, a fire alarm covered by a plastic bag and a broken television set. It was also loud and creaky, keeping her up throughout the night.

This kind of accommodation can be used for care leavers as young as 16, although an education committee report recently called for an outright ban on B&Bs, saying: “B&Bs can present an environment which feels unsafe and threatening to a young person.”

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2 Responses to English councils placing care leavers in ‘squalid’ bed and breakfasts

  1. Alan September 9, 2014 at 6:02 pm #

    Not only care leavers but other young homeless get placed into B&B with no regard to safety. They do it even when options such as Nightstop are available.

  2. Rachel September 10, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

    Why would the local authority put a young person in a B&B if there was a better alternative accessible to that young person? I agree that it is horrendous for a young person to face the prospect of a so called “squalid B&B” but I work with care leavers and that would not happen unless there was no alternative and it was an emergency but as the last comment suggests, Nightstop isn’t available in our area in an emergency situation. Although I agree with the main point of this article, B&B’s should not be used to put vulnerable young people in, it does not address a single issue as to why this may be happening and what the actual problem is. It comes across that the local authority are willfully putting young people in unsafe situations and in my experience you cannot move for red tape when it comes to safety and protecting young people to the point that activities which most young people enjoy are risk assessed to the nth degree. I would have like to have seen a more equal account of the situation.