Gary Messenger, Birmingham City Council’s head of interim housing, said: “We always work very hard to bring families back to the city. We are doing our level best for every family, but we are in the grip of a national housing crisis, being seen across the country.
“Our priority is to ensure the health and wellbeing needs of children and families are met. We would ideally house all our families here in the city, unless there is a legitimate safeguarding reason not to do so.”
Issac and his family, who moved to the UK from Eritrea before Issac was born, are now back in Birmingham after the council found appropriate accommodation. The family said they have lived in eight different places over the course of seven years.
On some days during his two-month stint in Manchester, Issac’s parents were unable to get him to school because the journey was so long.
The story highlights the chronic lack of decent accommodation for families who find themselves without a home.
Charities have warned housing waiting lists are growing, as increasing numbers who have nowhere else to go are put up in council-provided temporary accommodation.
According to the Local Government Association, 127,240 children lived in temporary accommodation during England’s third national lockdown, including 1,440 households with children in bed and breakfasts around the country.
Last year, documentary maker Ross Kemp released a programme which revealed vulnerable families were being moved hundreds of miles from where they live.
Kemp claimed 24,000 people had been left with little choice but to move because the housing crisis meant that their local authority had no place to offer them.
Hundreds of households, the documentary claimed, were being moved to northern cities such as Bradford, putting pressure on local services and schools.
Ms Rivett, the headteacher of St Clare’s Catholic Primary in Birmingham, which Issac attends, told BirminghamLive the ten-year-old had made it into school under challenging circumstances, adding he wasn’t the only one.
“I am very proud of Isaac, he showed great resilience to keep coming into school. But we should really not have children having to go through ordeals like this,” she said.
“Just this week one family was moved to Wolverhampton and another to Walsall. The impact on children and their families of regular upheaval can be unsettling.”