UK: Families feel squeeze as overcrowding spreads
July 13th 2012
Leah Nelson, 14, says there is no room for argument in her family – literally. “I mean there’s no room. I share my bedroom with my three brothers,” she says, pointing to a space measuring 3 metres by 2.5 metres. This narrow patch of carpet is where the four Nelson children – Leah, Stephen, 11, Ackeem, nine, and Micah, two – have to dress, study and play. Tumbling out of cupboards are clothes, textbooks and toys.
“It’s life’s little essentials that we miss out on,” says Mona Nelson, Leah’s mother. “There’s no table to eat on in our flat. The kids have nowhere to do their homework. We cannot buy another bike because we’ve got two that we keep in the living room.” The family’s story is becoming a feature of urban life. Shelter says one in four London children live in overcrowded homes – with 391,000 in cramped conditions – an 18% rise since 2008.
Other research shows that overcrowding can have profound effects for children: underachievement at school caused by lack of space to do homework; illness caused by cramped living conditions; and a lack of privacy leading to depression. In the Nelson household, Leah and Ackeem suffered from chest infections after their bedroom walls became damp and mould began to grow.
Many experts argue that too few homes are being built at a time when the population is expanding. And the homes that are being put up are smaller.
Read the rest of this article: The Guardian
More on this issue: Space and amenities