A ‘small handful’ of homeless people have been moved into a hotel as council leaders strive to keep rough sleepers off the street.
During the coronavirus lockdown, Stoke-on-Trent City Council moved more than 50 homeless people into various hotels to keep them safe from the virus.
Many were moved into the Crown Hotel and its Roebuck annexe in Longton, in line with the Government’s ‘Everybody In’ scheme.
The authority had previously used a few rooms at the Roebuck, but council leaders fully booked up both sites in order to get the city’s rough sleepers off the streets and into accommodation compatible with social distancing guidelines.
Residents of the Macari Centre were also moved into the Holiday Inn Express, in Trentham Lakes, while the council was in the process of relocating them into housing ‘pods’ at a new site in Hanley.
Now, with the Holiday Inn back open to guests, four rough sleepers have been moved into The George Hotel in Burslem, which normally takes homeless people referred by the city council, but which has been completely closed during lockdown.
City council leader Abi Brown said: “We worked extremely quickly in response to the coronavirus to take the responsible step of helping vulnerable homeless people off the street and into temporary accommodation for their protection.
“We did this alongside putting in place a range of support measures so that they can access tailored help to move on with their lives in the long-term.
“This has involved detailed planning and close work with a number of partners and hotel providers in the city.
“It is an approach that is working, with notable success stories of people who have accessed services and are now in long-term accommodation and taking control of their lives.
“In Burslem, we have worked with The George Hotel for some time, and this continues now that the hotel has reopened. The success of our work in response to the coronavirus means that just a very small handful of households have temporarily moved into The George.
“These households are being fully supported by the hotel management, police and agencies to meet their needs and respond to any issues.”
The George owner Raj Shah said: “We have four homeless people who have moved in, all ladies. We are happy to take in people through the council, but it all depends on availability of rooms.
“Obviously we don’t want any troublemakers, no-one likes hassle.
“We have opened to normal guests now. We are getting bookings, but not as many as we would like.”
June Cartwright, of community group Our Burslem, said: “As long as they are respectable and don’t cause any problems, then I haven’t got any problem.”