A joint investigation by The Observer and BBC 5 Live has revealed the shocking conditions faced by many young people in care when they are housed in unsafe and inappropriate accommodation including B&Bs, bedsits and even campsites.
Alongside testimonies from other young people, the reports highlighted the shocking story of Daisy (not her real name), a girl who was subjected to sexual harassment and exploitation, and exposed to drug and alcohol abuse, while living in B&B accommodation.
"I was taking legal highs every single day. I was drinking. I was around men who were 28 and I was only 16. That’s not normal. I came out in an awful way, a very damaged girl."
"I was taking legal highs every single day. I was drinking. I was around men who were 28 and I was only 16. That’s not normal," Daisy told the Observer. "I came out in an awful way, a very damaged girl."
Daisy previously participated in Change it!, a campaign run by the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), a part of Just for Kids Law (JfKL), contributing to the report "Change it: Children Speak out on Homelessness" which gave voice to children with experience of various critical housing issues.
"A lot of young people are too vulnerable to be left in independent accommodation," CRAE director and Head of Policy and Campaigns at JfKL, Louise King, told the Observer. "We are coming across worse conditions in more and more concerning types of accommodation, such as B&Bs and caravan parks."
JfKL CEO Enver Solomon appeared on 5 Live Investigates to talk about the issue, where he highlighted the failure of local authorities to meet their legal obligations to young people, and the particular difficulties faced by 16 and 17-year-olds.
"What should happen – and the law is very clear about this – is that if a young person – a child, a teenager – presents as being in need, as being unable to stay with their mum and dad or their carer, then the local authority has a duty in law to do a full assessment of their needs and to provide appropriate accommodation, and that appropriate accommodation should never be a bed and breakfast." Mr Solomon told the programme. "These children need a loving home just like every child needs a loving home."