Homeless people in London will be offered a fortnight’s stay in a hotel over Christmas, with three meals provided per day alongside a virtual appearance on Christmas Day from celebrity guests.
The scheme is being headed up by homelessness charity Crisis, who are unable to use their dormitory facilities to house the homeless during the festive season due to the risks of transmitting Covid-19. The organisation has paid for 517 hotel rooms at four hotels across London, which were provided by the London Hotel Group at a discount rate.
London Hotel Group founder and owner Gauhar Nawab said: “The homeless people who will be staying with us will be treated to a two-week hotel break, with three meals provided per day, virtual celebrity entertainment and a visiting podiatrist.
“Charities across the country have been forced to find new ways of bringing cheer and assistance to the homeless over the festive period and we are happy to help in making this possible.”
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Crisis boss Ian Richards said: “Normally, we would be running 10 centres with 4,000 guests and 12,000 volunteers. Then this [Covid] came along, and we just really had to stop and reinvent the wheel from scratch.
“We didn't want to do anything less. Our first objective was to offer as much as we always have done in a different way.”
The three hot meals that homeless guests are set to receive will be provided via room service, with a special app also allowing them to stream entertainment through a phone provided in the room.
The app will also inform them when health services, such as the podiatrist visit, will be open for use in the hotel.
The celebrities who will be virtually dialling in to connect with the guests include actors Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce, alongside pop singer Ellie Goulding. The trio will be hosting a virtual quiz on Christmas Day.
It is hoped that the scheme will help some of the individuals in the capital who have been left bereft by the Covid-19 pandemic which has struck households and increased hardship across the country.
The Daily Mail reports that 36,690 households were considered to be homeless between January and March 2020, according to figures provided by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, while a further 38,450 were considered to be under threat of becoming homeless at the time.
During the first national lockdown, the Mail reports that the 15,000 fully paid for hotel stays were extended to homeless people in the UK, but this scheme was not repeated during the autumn lockdown, with ministers instead increasing funding toward homelessness organisations and local authorities.
While more recent statistics on homelessness are yet to be revealed, it is understood that the number of rough sleepers has increased over autumn, and both the London Hotel Group and Crisis will be hoping that their initiative can provide even some temporary respite to the ever-growing issue to provide some festive cheer to those in need.