A mother who fled her family home with her six children and only £10 in her pocket is stuck in a crisis before Christmas.

The woman - given the pseudonym Maryam - lives in cramped temporary accommodation after escaping months of trauma and upset at home.

The family of seven are awaiting a suitable place to rent but Birmingham City Council has housed the family in a B&B only meant for short-stays, Birmingham Live reports.

The grizzly situation for this family of seven is not isolated.  They are among a staggering 756 kids spending the run-up to Christmas in a B&B or hotel room in the city.

Most will still be there on Christmas Day, and the prospect of a turkey dinner and an excess of treats is remote; and presents are likely to be in short supply.

The family don't have enough space to store their possessions
The family don't have enough space to store their possessions

When Maryam’s children were asked what they wanted for Christmas their answer was humbling. Her youngest child, a three year old, said he wanted “yoghurt and some colours”.

Meanwhile, his 10-year-old brother wants stationary for school.

He said: “I’d like a book to help me with my SATS - and I wish for Airpods."

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Maryam has endured a traumatic seven weeks after fleeing the family home in October. The family has since lived in a B&B, with mum trying to keep a semblance of normal life going for the kids, aged three to 13.

Thankfully, the situation facing this family is about to improve, after a last minute intervention from Birmingham City Council. They could be out of the B&B by Monday afternoon.

A brief message from the council read: "A move to more suitable self-contained accommodation has been arranged for next Monday (December 23)."

The family have been crammed into accommodation meant to house people for days for weeks
The family have been crammed into accommodation meant to house people for days for weeks

But for 298 other families, including 750 kids, Christmas Day will be spent in a Birmingham B&B room.

Most of them will have been there for several weeks at a time, living in a space suitable for short stays, not miserable months.

It is a dark and stark sign of a city in the grip of the national housing crisis, with a drastic shortage of council homes and affordable private properties for rent.

Birmingham City Council is trying to stem the tide of need but it's a struggle, and the number of kids caught up in the crisis just keeps going up.

Maryam, 43, left the family home in a hurry in the autumn with her six children, aged three to 13. It was the culmination of months of trauma and upset, and she sought support from Birmingham City Council, Women's Aid and her children's schools.

"I told the council what had been happening, and spoke to Women's Aid and the police for help," she said.

"The council first said they could not do anything to help with a house because we are a big family, so they could not give us suitable accommodation, they had nothing for us."

She spent a couple of nights with a friend - her family of seven, and her friend's family of ten, crammed into a small house.

The family were then housed in a Travelodge and, later, sent to the B&B where they have been living since October 29.

There's nowhere for the kids to play, no garden to run around in, no desk for homework, no table to eat at and no privacy.

The once empty Barry Jackson Tower was converted into temporary housing
The once empty Barry Jackson Tower was converted into temporary housing

The children have broken up from school for the holidays, and Maryam said she was uncertain how often she would be able to feed them.

They usually have breakfast and lunch at school, and in the evenings they mostly rely on fast, hot food from cheap takeaways or supermarkets, she said.

The little nine year old is very underweight - a letter from a health visitor, expressing concern at how desperate the family's situation is and the impact on their health, is among a pile of supporting documents pressing the city council to move the family out of the B&B.

The bundle also includes a letter from the family's GP, which says Maryam has type 2 diabetes, chronic back pain and anxiety and that one of the children is on nutritional supplements to boost her weight.

A health visitor presses the case that the family is suffering from being in a B&B room
A health visitor presses the case that the family is suffering from being in a B&B room

Mum Maryam used to work in a nursery school but has had to stop work since becoming homeless and ending up in the B&B.

She has managed to keep the family car on the road - without it, there's no chance the children would be able to continue at the schools they love.

But the running costs are an extra strain.

Mum Maryam says one of her lad's school performance has dropped since the turmoil of the family breakup: "His reading is not good but he is very bright, but there is nowhere quiet for him or any of the children to study or think. It is hard for him."

Saidul Haque Saeed, lead organiser for Citizens UK in Birmingham, and his organisation has been supporting Maryam since her plight came to their attention, and they have been advocating on her behalf for an urgent move into a permanent home.

"We are seeing so many cases like this, all over Birmingham. It is a shocking state of affairs, a real scandal, driven by a lack of social housing and a lack of affordable private rented accommodation. The system is broken in the city."

He has also drawn together a multi-cultural, multi-faith group of campaigners who have now started to lobby the city council, the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Government on social housing provision.

"There are simply too few places in the city for families in difficulty to find security and peace," he says.

Saidul Haque Saee, from Citizens UK, says there are too few places for families in difficulty
Saidul Haque Saee, from Citizens UK, says there are too few places for families in difficulty

In early 2018, the number of households - including families - sent to B&Bs was close to 700. Many were being sent out of the city, tearing them away from any support networks and schools.

The city's Cabinet member responsible for homelessness, Coun Sharon Thompson, took over the portfolio in May 2018 and pledged to bring that number down drastically. She recognises that a B&B room is no place for a family and has pledged to bring the number "down to zero".

By this time last year that figure had nearly halved, with 370 households of all sizes living in B&Bs, including 312 families and 468 children.

But in the past year progress has stalled, despite a series of new measures.

Sharon Thompson outside Carole Gething House where she lived when homeless
Sharon Thompson outside Carole Gething House where she lived when homeless

At the start of this week, the number of affected families has reduced slightly to 299 - but the number of children caught up in the crisis has rocketed to 756.

Many of the families affected are large, and the current housing stock is just not able to cope.

The stubbornly static number of affected families comes despite concerted efforts all year by the council to deal with demand.

But no sooner is one family helped than more arrive seeking support. The council is currently seeing 600 new families every month - enough to fill four tower blocks.

The Homelessness Reduction Act, introduced earlier this year, has made it easier for people to get help and is designed to ensure people are supported earlier, with a focus on preventing them becoming homeless in the first place.

But it's a seemingly unmanageable tsunami of need.

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “Bed and breakfast accommodation is emergency accommodation only and used as a last resort.

"It is a safety net that’s in place to protect the most vulnerable homeless households and we recognise this is type of accommodation is only suitable short term.

“Our priority is to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place and as such we have been working with partners in the public and third sectors to ensure that we identify and reach people who are at risk of homelessness at a much earlier stage and before they come to us as statutory homeless.

“Through the efforts of our prevention work, the number in bed and breakfast has significantly fallen from nearly 700 households last year (early 2018) to the recent figure of 360.”

She is calling for donors to support Shelter's urgent homeless appeal, by visiting www.shelter.org.uk or text SHELTER to 70030 to donate £3.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “Every child should have somewhere safe to live, and councils have a duty to provide temporary accommodation to those who need it, including families with children.

NOTE: We have not identified the family and their location to protect their privacy.