Jade, Sensi and Henry are all homeless and living in temporary accommodation, but they won't let this hold them back from trying to achieve their dreams.
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My name is Sensi and I'm nine years old and I love scooting.
Hi, everyone. I'm Jade. I'm 13 years old.
And this is my sister Melina.
How old are you?
I'm Henry and I'm ten, and I love football.
This is my park and I love it very much.
I spend a lot of time at this park
because I don't have my own garden.
In fact, I don't even have my own home, cos I'm homeless.
I live in a temporary accommodation.
Still classified as homeless.
I'm still homeless. I'm living in a temporary accommodation.
Even though we are homeless, we all have big ambitions.
When I'm older, I want to be a human rights lawyer,
so I can help loads of people.
My dream is to be a Chelsea football player
and I'm going to buy my mum a house
so we can be out of this homelessness situation.
My life's a bit topsy-turvy right now.
We'll be filming ourselves so you can see what I see.
So you can see what life's like when you have nowhere to live.
Hey, I'm going to show you around my house so you can see
what it's like for me.
Me and my mum have to share bedrooms.
Like, for a ten-year-old it's not that great.
I'll show you something really disgusting about this.
Baby snails with its friends, dads and mums.
The whole house is disgusting.
-It's damp, it's full of snails.
Sometimes you find cockroaches come in and I've got so many bites.
So I'm helping my mum cook.
Even though I'm in a house, I'm still homeless,
because this is a temporary accommodation.
So you don't know when we can be kicked out.
I've moved houses five times and my mum's moved seven.
The food's on. Looking good!
I'm homeless because my mum works as a carer looking after old people
and she doesn't get enough money to pay for the rent,
so the council keeps on moving us from place to place.
What does it taste like?
It's really hard to move houses because, like,
you've settled in and then you're going to move again,
and it's like...
It's just not fair on us because we've been moved so many times.
My mum found a cockroach in the kitchen and it's really horrible.
Can you see that there?
Inside the jar?
But that's what it's like to live in the hostel.
OK, so this is the tour of the hostel room that we live in.
This is the sitting area and sleeping area,
and we sleep altogether with our beds pushed.
A lot of the time we're on top of each other
because it's just really small and cramped.
Oh, sorry, darling.
It's really, really, really hard to have some space.
Now Opi's hiding under the table.
-Why are we homeless?
Because people always ask me and I don't really know.
OK, erm, well, me and Dad can't live together any more and
it's really, really expensive to rent privately.
So it means we don't have anywhere to live
until the council can find you somewhere to live that's affordable.
OK, let's carry on walking.
OK, now I'm going to show you around my house.
First, the room I'm going to show you is Malachi's room.
It's a bit small.
And then the room next to it is mine and my younger sister's room.
We have the bathroom.
We can't actually have a bath because the tank is too small.
This is our kitchen
and then this is our garden.
As you can see,
there's, like, loads of weeds in it and it's actually a poisonous weed,
so we can't actually go in the garden.
Even though the house I'm living at at the moment has many problems,
it was much worse before.
I used to live in a B&B.
This is my mum.
She's been really, really good throughout the whole of this,
but to be honest, we're still quite fortunate because there's so many
people who are worse off than us.
The statistics is like 80,000 kids are in a bed and breakfast,
so we do have to be thankful that...
-..where we are.
I mean, even some of the stories that you hear
of people's temporary accommodation is far worse than what we've got.
I can't play football around here because I don't have a garden
and everywhere you go, there'll be a sign
saying that you can't play football and you'll get a fine.
My mum's going to take me to the park
because I never get the chance to play football, and it's miles away.
Been walking ages and we're still not there.
Ugh, it took so long to get here,
but now I'm going to show you some tricks.
My dream is to be a Chelsea football player
and I'm going to buy my mum a house,
so we can be out of this homelessness situation.
Playing football is when my mind is empty
and I don't think about being evicted from this flat.
Even though the house is horrible,
we can't afford the rent,
and we're waiting to find out if we have to move out.
The new flat could be even worse.
Can I come round to your place today?
Right now I'm living in a hostel because I don't really have a home.
there's strict rules that you can't have visitors.
I'm afraid you can't.
Why do you live in hostel?
Because I don't have anywhere else to live, so I'm basically homeless.
I thought homeless meant when people lived on the streets.
Well, not really.
It only means that you don't have somewhere that you feel comfortable,
and that is yours.
-I don't think it's fair you have to live there.
We're coming, we're coming!
So we're just at the park now so that we can get out of the house,
cos that home's getting a little bit crowded.
Well, the last one there's a rotten egg, so...
I'm done with this one cos I feel sick. This is really dizzy.
Oh, yeah, I forgot from here that you can see where our old B&B is.
What's a B&B?
A B&B is where we used to live.
When we lost our house, this is where we were moved to.
-You don't remember?
We had to share a house with another family.
I don't remember it.
Well, we had to share a room and we were all sleeping in the same place.
We had to share a bathroom, we had to share a kitchen.
-With the other family?
-The living area, yeah.
And we all had to stay in one bedroom.
-And you shared a bed with Mum.
No, I don't remember that.
We were there for six months
and we were only supposed to be there for six weeks,
so that's a long, long time.
We had no space to ourselves.
And this was literally like the only place where we could come and relax.
Do you want to go see it?
Well, it doesn't look that horrible from the outside.
-But it was from the inside. It wasn't really nice.
This room right where the windows are, that's, that's...
-That was our room.
-The room that we shared.
-All five of us.
And there was damp on the walls.
Th-that's disgusting, then.
And the other family never kept the bathroom tidy
so there was always, like, the toilet was never flushed.
-And it was disgusting.
Do some people actually stay there for six weeks?
I doubt it, they leave them in there for as long as possible,
but let's hope they're not going through the same thing that we did.
OK. Let's go to that slightly nice home.
When I get older, I'd like to be a human rights lawyer
because I've been through many different experiences
and I don't want children to go through the same thing.
Most of my friends don't even know what eviction is.
I knew that since I had to move the first time.
Eviction is when the council kick you out of the house
for a various reason.
My mum can't afford the money for the rent sometimes,
so we get evicted.
It makes me feel very stressed
and I don't know where we're going to go if we get evicted again.
I really want a new house, but at the same time, I don't want to move.
If we to move, then I'm going to have to say, like,
my last goodbyes to my friends and I'll never see them again.
Mum's taking me out for hot chocolate to have a chat.
I don't know what it's about. Let's go.
Could I order a hot chocolate and a cup of tea, please?
-Sure, I'll bring it over.
-Thanks very much. Thank you.
Mum, you never take me out for hot chocolate by myself.
What's this all about?
Erm, I've got a bit of news that I wanted to talk to you about,
-just me and you.
Cos you know that I had asked the council if, erm,
we could move out of the hostel
-cos I didn't think it was big enough for us.
And unfortunately they have said no.
I don't want to go back.
Why did they do that?
Well, the law says that, erm,
a room our size is big enough for two people.
-And because you and Opi are under the age of ten...
..legally, you don't count as a whole person, you're half a person.
-So I've got two half-people...
-..and one adult makes two.
I think that's silly.
I'm sorry, babe.
For the past three years, I've been helping campaign
to help change the homelessness situation.
Our group is just made up of loads of children
who have been through homelessness, care...
This is Shanon,
this is Layla
and this is Leah.
So this is my badge from when I went to go and speak,
um, to the UN in Geneva.
When we came back,
the UN committee said that they wanted to focus on homelessness,
so then we put together a housing and homelessness campaign pack.
I want to do more.
When I'm older, I want to be a human rights lawyer
so I can help loads of people.
However, for now, I'm just going to stick to try and campaign
for children going through homelessness.
One thing that's really important to me is the fact that children are
still being put in bed and breakfasts
even though it's illegal for a child
to be put in a B&B for longer than six weeks.
But the government are still doing it.
So that's one thing I really want to change.
So, Henry, here is the letter from the council again.
It's telling us that we have only two weeks to leave.
We've only just moved into this house and now we have to move again.
We keep on getting so many eviction letters
and it's just stressing us out
because we just get too many. It's annoying.
So where are we going to go now?
I don't know. I have no clue.
We have to go back to the council, homeless unit.
I don't know where it will end.
It's hard, Henry.
That's not good, Henry.
I'm really upset.
To be evicted, it feels, like...
..bad, because I'll have to leave all my friends
who are out there when I play.
To make new friends all the time is nerve-racking
cos every time you make friends, you say,
"Oh, yeah, can I be your friend? Can I play with you?"
And then as soon as you start to get into that,
playing with your friends at the beginning,
you have to leave them because you you got evicted.
How are you going to make any friends to play with after school,
on the weekends, the summer and holiday?
My alarm just went off.
I guess I should start getting ready.
Even though our situation in the B&B was really bad,
we had to share one room for the five of us.
And we shared it with people that made it so dirty.
Still took 18 months to get this place
and it's not even that good because it's temporary.
There's just way too many homeless people
and not enough houses to go round.
Something needs to change cos the system is just really messed up.
Come on, Jade. Hurry up. You're going to be late.
OK, Mum, I'm coming.
I'm off to see Maria, who helps run the Change It campaign I'm part of.
And what we're trying to do is change the homelessness situation
in the UK for children like me.
So I'm hoping that Maria has some ideas
how I can help more and get more involved. Let's go.
-Hi. How are you?
We're really pleased that you want to do more.
We have got something coming up next week that you can come along to
which is an event in Parliament.
Does that sound like something you'd be interested in?
Yeah. I've kind of, like, realised that homelessness
is still a growing problem and I need to do more to help out,
so that other children don't have to go through what I went through.
One thing I wanted to ask you about is if, at the event,
you might be willing to give a speech?
I would be a bit nervous to speak in front of all those MPs.
Yeah. I can understand you'd be nervous,
but I know that you'd be really, really good at it.
You can speak really well about your experiences
and all of the work that you've done with us.
So I think you'd be great,
but we'll be there to support you as well if you're feeling nervous.
For the event that's going to be happening on the 25th,
I'm quite nervous, because I don't really know how, erm...
I don't even know if I'm going to be able to talk to all the MPs.
But that's it for now. Bye.
So me and my mum,
we are looking on the internet for properties to move into,
because we're being evicted from this house.
Being homeless, you get points for various things,
like how bad your living situation currently is,
how many people are in your family, that kind of thing.
And every week you have to check if you have the points to be at the top
of the list to be offered a flat.
You still have to pay for the rent and we can't afford most places.
That one is way out of our budget.
That one's too expensive.
Yep, that's £370.
Tiny house in Greenford
for £1,580 per month.
I hate it.
They don't want you to have, like, have a house,
they want you to, like, be on the streets and stuff, because
they just have to have people that do not take housing benefits
because they know that the people that do go on housing benefits,
they know that they're the poor ones here.
That makes me feel really sad.
So where are we going?
So we're just going to go to the cafe cos I haven't got any Wi-Fi
in the hostel, and I want to have a look at some houses.
-OK? Come on.
Every week, my mum has to take us somewhere with Wi-Fi
to look at what flats have come up to rent.
I hate having to do it because it takes ages
and we never find anything anyway.
It's going to be all right.
I will get this sorted.
I've got so much to write my speech about
but I just really don't know where to start or how to start.
But first I think I might get a couple facts.
More than - whoa - 250,000 are homeless in England.
And this was in 2016.
Whoa, these statistics show how much of a problem
homelessness is in the UK.
# Work, work, work, work, work, work
# He said me haffi Work, work, work, work, work, work
# He see me do mi Dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt
# So me put in work, work, work, work, work, work... #
-Hi. How's it going?
Yeah, just about.
But I don't really want to show anyone what I've written.
Yeah, but Jade, how are you supposed to do this
in front of everybody if you're not going to do it in front of me?
Have you got any advice?
Don't be nervous about being nervous!
When you go there on the day, you'll be fine, you know,
a little bit of nerves never hurt anybody anyway.
-You're welcome, my darling.
-You'll be fine.
You can - wait - you can read it.
But you can't!
Hi, guys, so I just got back from school
and my mum's on the phone to the estate agent
and we might have a possibility of getting a new house.
What are they saying, Mum?
Oh, my good Lord!
Wow! Henry, bingo!
They just gave us a new flat, nice flat where we're going to live.
And the snails are gone!
We'll never see them again!
So today's the day I'm going to Houses of Parliament
to do my speech.
We're also going to talk to MPs about why B&Bs are so bad.
I'm really nervous, but I'm going to try and take my mum's advice
and try not to be.
Right, so we're on our way to the Houses of Parliament.
How do you feel about your speech?
Erm, I'm a little bit nervous, but I'm quite confident.
I think you'll do all right. In we go!
so this is where I'm going into.
How are you feeling?
Erm, I'm a bit nervous to talk in front of everyone,
but otherwise I'm OK.
So Jade's going to tell us some of the key facts about why we're
here today and what it is that we want to change.
So in 2013, 1,560 children
were living in B&Bs.
And since then, in 2016,
it's got up to 3,390.
And over a third of families housed in B&Bs in 2016
lived there for longer than six weeks.
And six weeks is the recommended amount
that you should have to stay there for.
So I think my speech went pretty well,
and after that we had the opportunity to meet with the MPs
one-on-one to tell them about our own experiences.
A week on Tuesday, we have a debate in the House of Commons
-about temporary accommodation...
..and we really want to tell the stories of people who have
lived in temporary accommodation.
I wondered if you might tell me a bit about your experience.
In our B&B, it was five of us
and we all had to share one bedroom.
And there was another family that stayed there with us.
We shared the kitchen and we shared the living area.
Have you met Renee and Jade, Siobhain?
-Oh, no. Hello, Renee. Hello, Jade.
They lived in temporary accommodation in Acton
for six months, a B&B.
I was saying we might try and use it in the debate if we can,
cos it's a really powerful one.
-Thanks a lot for opening up to us.
Thank you very much. Nice to meet you.
It was quite nice that someone was taking down notes
on what we were saying, cos it kind of shows that
they're actually trying to make a difference.
So next week, Tuesday, they're going to have a three-hour debate
in Parliament about temporary accommodation,
so hopefully they'll be able to use what we've given them today
in the lobbying event, um,
to strengthen their argument.
And now we're going to go home because I'm really tired,
but I feel like we had a very productive day and we got a lot,
we said a lot, we said what we needed to say.
SCHOOL BELL RINGS
I'm at Sensi's school and I've got some news for her.
OK, so, erm, I've got some news for you.
Oh, I hate it when you say that cos it's always bad.
No, no, no, no, no.
This time it's really good news.
Erm, we haven't had anywhere to live for...
-over 16 months.
And we've been in a hostel and it's been hard work for all of us.
But we've got somewhere to live now.
-Yes, my darling,
we've been given somewhere to live and we will,
er, if we, erm,
-want to go now, we can go and have a look at it.
-And get the keys.
-OK, let's go. Eeee!
So I'm outside the front door of our new flat
and I'm really excited to go in,
so my mum's going to film my reaction.
I'm a bit rubbish at this.
SHE WHISPERS: My God...
There's no carpet, but it's...
Oh, my gosh!
Yeah. There's power.
Which one is this?
I've got my room!
So I'm going to see my room.
Which one is it?
I think this is going to be my room.
Let's put the light on, shall we?
How do you feel, Mrs?
Oh, it's so much better than the hostel.
That cramped, tiny room.
Maybe we'll do that.
Hey, guys, so I'm finally in my new flat.
Because we couldn't afford enough money for a private flat,
the council have put us in a different flat.
Have a look.
This is my own bedroom.
I have this much space,
which is pretty good!
I don't have to sleep with my mum any more.
There's no more snails and no more mould
and I can play football outside.
And that's the best thing about it.
Mum, I'm just going to play football in the garden. See you in a bit.
When I went to the Houses of Parliament to give my speech,
I also spoke to Siobhain McDonagh
and, erm, she said that she was going to give a speech in Parliament
a couple weeks later, erm,
and she was going to talk about the homeless problem.
So today we're going to watch what she said.
-Has it started yet?
-No, it's just about to start now.
Take Renee and her sister Jade.
She mentioned your name! Oh, my gosh!
Two young, brave girls who I had the pleasure of meeting in Parliament
just a fortnight ago.
After living in their friend's house for over a year,
Renee and Jade's family became homeless
and had to move to temporary accommodation in Acton.
Does the Minister agree with me that a B&B is no place for Renee
or in fact any family for longer than six weeks?
It just kind of shows me that this is something that I should continue
until not only I'm helped,
but loads of other children that are going through the same thing.
-Say hi, Elizabeth!
Your room's going to be way prettier than mine now.
Oh, well, we'll see about that.
If you're going through what I went through, all I can say is
never give up.
This flat is good.
However, we'll probably have to move again soon,
but I'm going to focus on the positives.
That there is no snails here and I can play football outside.
With me campaigning, there is change happening and people are taking,
like, notice of it.
Because no children in the UK should be homeless.
I'm so proud of you and what you've achieved today
and I think you've got a really bright future ahead of you
The child homelessness epidemic in the UK has risen 12 per cent in the last year and there are increasing numbers of families in temporary accommodation, despite the regulation that no child should be living in a B&B for over six weeks. In this insightful, heart-wrenching film we meet Jade, Sensi and Henry, three children affected by the crisis. Almost exclusively filmed on phones, they take us into their world to show the effect that living in temporary accommodation can have on families. We follow the trio as they desperately strive not to let their living conditions set them back.
For Jade, her dream of being a human rights lawyer is inspired by her homelessness and her desire that no other child should be left in the same position as her. But will she be able to conquer her nerves in time to speak at the Houses of Parliament? Sensi wants everyone to know that homelessness doesn't just apply to old men living in shop doorways, while Henry's ambitions of becoming a Chelsea footballer are put at risk by living through constant evictions.