Rough sleepers who have been staying in a hotel during the pandemic will be given a “really special” Christmas Day.
Mike Matthews, manager of the Prince Rupert Hotel in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, said the 28 people staying with them were now “family”.
Each will have a Christmas dinner at the hotel, and receive gifts donated by local businesses.
“They have become family, so we will be doing exactly as you do at home,” Mr Matthews said.
In total, 84 people have stayed at the hotel since the first lockdown began, with about 55 now finding permanent homes, Mr Matthews said.
Mr Matthews said one of the former residents had since been hired as a chef, with plans to hire two others to work in the kitchen and housekeeping once it reopens to guests.
“I never knew there were quite so many people out there in need,” he said.
“Our hope is to reach people before they reach the streets and bring them here to provide safety and security from the virus.”
The residents operate as a ‘bubble’ and so do not need to follow social distancing rules.
As well as gifts, there have also been several donations of money which will go towards buying coats and boots for each person.
“We’re all hoteliers so we are used to working Christmas day it is usually the longest day I work and I stagger home at 10pm,” Mr Matthews added.
“But this will be a great occasion, just with a different type of guest.”
Shropshire Council said the hotel was one of a number in the county which has opened its doors to the homeless during the pandemic, with funding for temporary housing provided through Housing Benefit, the council’s budget and from Covid-19 funding provided by the government.
It said it wanted to reduce the use of B&Bs as temporary accommodation and provide more suitable and sustainable options, with a number of projects in the pipeline.
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