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CAMPAIGN WIN: The government has updated the Homelessness Code of Guidance to include cots for children under 2 in temporary accommodation. Thank you to everyone who signed our petition.


On Tuesday 5th March, we visited Downing Street to hand in our petition and urge the government to set up a Homeless Families Task Force to tackle the issue of child homelessness head-on.

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

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.

TA APPG - cot statement copy

This Christmas, thousands of homeless children face an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) due to their living conditions.

There are currently 131,370 children living in Temporary Accommodation (TA) in England, mostly placed in inappropriate accommodation such as B&Bs, hotels or hostels. 50% of all homeless people in England are children.

Families without a home can spend weeks, months and sometimes years living in one room with no cooking facilities, no laundry facilities, no safe space to play and, increasingly, no safe place to sleep. A mortality review had found that at least 34 children had died, with Temporary Accommodation being listed as a contributing factor to their untimely death. Most of these children were babies under 1 year of age.

Temporary Accommodation is never the ideal solution, but for many families it is the only option. Families having to stay in TA should be entitled to a safer, secure and peaceful experience, and yet for far too many it is anything but. Currently there is no statutory requirement to provide a cot or Moses basket for children under 2 in Temporary Accommodation.

When safer sleep advice cannot be followed, this can contribute to an increased risk of SIDS.

This truly is a Silent Nightmare.

We are asking that the Government change their Homelessness Code of Guidance, by choosing to provide cots and Moses baskets in Temporary Accommodation.
Then, all homeless children under the age of 2 will have access to a safe place to sleep and a reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

With this simple act, the Government can support homeless children towards a better, safer start in life.

Please help us give a voice to the voiceless this Christmas. Sign our petition and share on your social networks.