Two young homeless men had to spend another night on the streets after a Stoke-on-Trent hotel turned them away – despite a charity saying their room had already being booked and paid for.
Help for the Homeless say they had arranged a night at the £44-a-night Sneyd Arms Hotel, in Tunstall, for two friends who are in their 20s to give them a break from the wet and freezing weather.
A supporter of the charity told StokeonTrentLive they had made the reservation through hotel management firm OYO with the money taken in advance.
But volunteer Sarah Steadman says that when she dropped them off on Monday, a worker who she described as ‘rude’ and ‘judgemental’ refused to let them stay.
Instead, the two men – one of which is suffering from cancer – ended up sleeping rough in Hanley.
The Sneyd Arms today insisted that they never received the booking and is happy to accept the homeless – providing they abide by the ‘house rules’.
However, OYO confirmed to StokeonTrentLive that it received the booking which had been logged as a ‘no-show’ although it is not known who made it a ‘no-show’.
OYO has since refunded the money.
Mum-of-two Sarah, aged 41, from Meir, said: “I took them up and unpacked the car and took them inside. I was ringing the bell and a man eventually came to the desk.
“He looked us up and down.
“I explained we had a reservation but he looked at me blankly. He was insisting we hadn’t booked a room even though payment had been taken by OYO.
“He then basically turned around and said we don’t take the homeless.
“I was there a good half an hour trying to sort it out but in the end we had no choice but to leave.
“The lads were really upset. They were looking forward to having a bed and a shower. We’d sent them off with sachets of coffee and everything they needed.
“One of the lads has cancer and the other one also has health issues. It meant so much to them. They wouldn’t have been any trouble.
“I had to drop them off back in Hanley. It was heart-breaking. I just felt so bad when I was going home to a warm bed.”
Shop manager Sarah, who volunteers with the charity five days a week, says she was told by the hotel that they no longer accept homeless people after a new manager was brought in a year-and-a-half ago.
Jeannette Jackson, who founded Help for the Homeless with husband Glyn, was horrified to hear the lads had been turned away.
The 54-year-old said: “A friend of ours had booked the hotel.
“We arranged for these two lads to go because we knew they wouldn’t have been any bother.
“It would have been really nice for him to sleep in a bed for a night and have a proper bath or a shower and just be pampered for a change.
“They weren’t that scruffy or dirty. We are utterly disgusted.
“They ended up back on the streets with only the clothes they had on as they’d already stored their sleeping bag and mats at the Norsaca Church in Hanley for the night ready to pick up the next day.
“Sarah was beside herself. The lads were absolutely gutted. It’s just not fair. They had built themselves up only to be let down.
“There’s only one place that takes the homeless now in the whole of Stoke-on-Trent.”
Deb Oakes, a volunteer with Help for the Homeless, said: “These two lads were absolutely bouncing that they were going to get a bed for the night. And then to be knocked back is just devastating.
“It’s heartbreaking. Nobody should judge someone because you never know what that person’s been through.
“They each have their own story to tell. People should have a bit more empathy.”
The Sneyd Arms spokesman said: “The problem was we never received the booking. I don’t how the mistake was made but it never came through.
“We are happy to have the homeless stay so long as they abide by our house rules such as no drugs, smoking and no damage.”
Jeanette is keen to hear from any B&Bs that accept the homeless. If you can help, call her on 07783145034.