CAMPAIGN WIN! A cot for every night for every child.

CampaignWin_4

Government will add cots to homelessness guidance for councils.

Dear colleague,

A cot for every night for every child.

I have been given this opportunity to share with you the importance of cots for every child under two living in Temporary Accommodation. Thank you for spending these few moments reading this guidance and engaging with this issue.

The reasons families end up living in temporary accommodation are many: relationship breakdown, eviction, their parents fleeing domestic violence, the end of a long road financially or a quick series of events. Whatever the scenario, remember that the children in the middle did not choose this. They are entering the new, the unknown, the unfamiliar and the unpredictable. Their parent is also likely in unknown surroundings, unfamiliar spaces and new routines. It is very disruptive.

We know that this change and subsequent series of changes as families go through the homeless journey have a significant impact on children of all ages.  Homelessness affects their learning, development, social skills, growth, health, and relationships.  For very young children and babies several factors in their homeless journey increase the risk of sudden and unexpected death. (This was previously known as cot death, but this term is no longer used.)  There is concern that there may be a higher level of small children and babies dying in temporary accommodation than expected. Factors that increase the risk of death include the age of baby, poverty, change in routine, environmental factors, underlying medical conditions and sleeping arrangements. Some factors can be mitigated or reduced, others can’t, but each factor creates a kind of multiplier effect. We can take action to reduce sudden unexpected death and one of these actions is ensuring that safer sleep arrangements are in place.

If a baby or infant sleeps in a cot or moses basket they are significantly less likely to die than if they slept in their parents’ bed, in their parents’ arms, or on a sofa. This is the single biggest intervention we can make; often we can’t change the environment, the uncertainty, poverty, or other social factors but we can do our best to ensure that every night, every infant has access to a cot or moses basket.

We know that some parents will have cots with them, we know some accommodation can provide them as standard. We also know that in other situations more creative solutions will be needed, whether that is having a small stock that can be used, pressing providers for provision as standard or working with other local organisations to provide cots. We know that this will need to be thought through at a very granular level, working out in detail local pathways and provision.

I want to thank you for all your efforts in this. Thank you for implementing this new guidance and for adopting the spirit this guidance was written in. We hope that bit by bit we will reduce the mortality rate of some of our most vulnerable children who find themselves living in TA.

If you want to know anymore or want any additional support implementing this new guidance please contact us at contact@sharedhealth.org.uk

Huge thanks

Dr Laura Neilson

Shared Health Foundation working with National Child Mortality Database.

Co-secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Households in Temporary Accommodation.

As the chair of the Households in Temporary Accommodation APPG, I welcome the update to the Homelessness Code of Guidance announced today to encourage local authorities to provide cots for every child under 2 in temporary accommodation.

We know this intervention will save lives and hope to see it implemented across local authorities in England. Dr Laura Neilson, CEO of Shared Health, a co-secretariat of the APPG, wrote to all local authorities to welcome this intervention and in doing so said:

If a baby or infant sleeps in a cot or moses basket they are significantly less likely to die than if they slept in their parents' bed, in their parents' arms, or on a sofa. This is the single biggest intervention we can make; often we can't change the environment, the uncertainty, poverty, or other social factors but we can do our best to ensure that every night, every infant has access to a cot or moses basket.

Thank you to everyone who signed our Silent Nightmare cot campaign petition and for helping to make this happen.

Siobhain McDonagh
MP for Mitcham and Morden
Chair of the Households in Temporary Accommodation APPG

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