In October, representatives from the Change it! campaign met with Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP to talk about the issues faced by young people living in Temporary Accommodation (TA), and the particular problems for children forced to spend extended periods living in Bed and Breakfasts (B&B). Change it! campaign steering group member Magreth, 13 years-old, talked to JfKL about what they discussed and what she hopes the meeting will achieve.
How did you get involved in Change it! ?
I’ve been involved in Change It! since last year. I was living in B&B accommodation, and then got involved in the project
Why did you go to visit the minister last week?
We met with her to tell her about how we need to change the system of temporary accommodation. We need to raise awareness of what changes the government needs to make to help kids that are in temporary accommodation – and limit for how long they can be accommodated in B&Bs for.
What did you talk about?
We told her about our experiences and how it’s not right, and how we should be placed in housing appropriate for children and families – and we made suggestions about how she could change the law.
What were your impressions of the minister?
Minister Wheeler listened to us and also asked questions, which was very good. She was interested in what we had to say and told us what she can and cannot do for temporary accommodation. She told us that some things are not up to her – that it depends on the local authority – but she said she could look into stuff like inspections and making sure that kids aren’t in an environment where there are alcoholics and people that do drugs. She said she would talk to local authorities about having inspections every three months.
How did you feel after the meeting?
I felt like it had made an impact. She said she would find something she could do about it – and she agreed to meet us again in six months again, so that’s good. Since then she's also sent us a letter outlining what the government is doing right now to improve. I think the meeting is going to make a positive difference for me and other people in this situation.
What other changes do you think need to be made to the system of temporary accommodation for families with children?
The authorities need to think about how the area the accommodation is in and how far it is from the children’s school and their parents’ workplaces. That is a big issue, as even if it’s all in London, there can be huge distances and travel times involved.
Has being part of the Change it! campaign inspired you to get active in other ways?
It’s definitely inspired me to get involved in different campaigns – there’s a project coming up about kids excluded from school, and I’m getting involved in that. And of course, I’m looking forward to our next meeting with the minister.
Change it! is a campaign led by children and young people who are passionate about making life better for all children and young people. It is run by a steering committee of children and young people age 10-20 years-old from all over England, many of them have experienced not having their rights met, having grown up in care, faced discrimination or experienced homelessness.