Who we are
CARIS Camden Families is a grassroots charity that runs support services for homeless children and their parents living in hostels in the London Borough of Camden.
Families can find themselves homeless for many reasons. They may be displaced as part of the refugee resettlement process. They may be fleeing domestic violence, or suffering the fallout of relationship breakdown. They may have simply found themselves priced out of the rental market and lost their home as a result.
Parents with dependent children don't face street-homelessness in the UK as single adults do, but instead are placed in council-run 'temporary accommodation' hostels, where the family occupies one or two adjoining rooms, often sharing bathrooms and kitchens with other families. Whilst one better than the streets, a hostel is no substitute for a real home. Overcrowded family rooms allow individual family members no privacy. They deprive children of space to play, and in which to do homework. The precarity of homelessness brings stress and anxiety into the everyday lives of parents and their children, and worst of all, there is often nothing 'temporary' about hostel life. With affordable housing and social tenancies increasingly scarce, many children and their parents live in this state of limbo for years on end. The hostel, in effect, becomes the childhood home.
As per Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we believe "every child has the right to a standard of living that is good enough to meet their physical and social needs and support their development." CARIS Camden Families was founded in 2016 to provide a range of play and educational opportunities to children living in Camden's hostels, to mitigate some of the disadvantage to their learning, growth and sense of self-esteem that can come with the experience of homelessness. And in doing so, we aim to relieve some of the pressures felt by their parents, doing their best to raise happy, fulfilled children in the most difficult of circumstances.
CARIS Camden Families is a project of CARIS Camden, a homelessness charity that has existed since 2005. CARIS Camden also runs C4WS Homeless Project, which supports single adults facing homelessness.