MORE than 170 children in Wiltshire will wake up homeless on Christmas morning, according to a leading charity.

National charity Shelter released the figures are part of a report into the housing crisis, examining the scale and impact of homelessness on children in Britain today.

The figures showed that 171 children in Wiltshire are homeless, up seven per cent in the past five years.

Across the South West as a whole, nearly 3,000 children are now without a permanent home, the figures showed.

Of these 447 will spend their Christmas in a hostel or bed and breakfast, often with one family in a single room, sharing bathrooms and kitchens with other residents.

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Greg Beales, director of campaigns at Shelter said: “No child should be homeless.

"But for the generation growing up in the housing crisis, this is the grim reality for many.

“The number of children hidden away in hostels and B and Bs is enough to make anyone’s heart sink.

"These are not places for children.

"We hear about cold, damp – even rats.

"Young children are sharing beds with multiple family members, trying to play in dirty public corridors, and having to leave their block in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

“Over the last five years, hundreds of thousands of children have known what it’s like to be homeless.

"The impact these young people cannot be overstated. It doesn’t have to be this way."

To support Shelter's Christmas appeal visit