Stoke-on-Trent hotel for homeless secures housing for rough sleepers

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Wendy Vernall
Image caption,
Wendy Vernall says she has managed to secure a two-bedroom property to move into when she leaves The Crown Hotel

A hotel which opened its doors to the homeless during the coronavirus lockdown says it has helped rough sleepers find new homes.

The Crown Hotel, based in Longton in Stoke-on-Trent, closed to the public in March but has provided rooms for rough sleepers with the help of the council.

A staff member said she was proud of what staff have been able to achieve.

The council said it hoped the government will continue to provide "adequate funding" for homelessness.

One former rough sleeper who received support from the hotel said he was scared about catching coronavirus on the streets before being given a room.

Warwick Chambers said: "You don't know if you're going to catch it, there's so many people walking past you coughing.

"If we were on the streets we were going to die on the streets," he said.

Image caption,
Warwick Chambers said he was scared of catching the virus before being offered a room

As lockdown measures have begun to be eased, drop-in sessions have been held at the hotel by charitable organisation Brighter Futures.

Wendy Vernall said she has managed to secure a two-bedroom property to move into when she leaves the hotel.

"I feel over the moon that I've been able to improve myself in the last eight weeks, getting myself the motivation...to think 'yeah, there is a place out there I can call home'", she said.

Nicola Johnson of Brighter Futures said the hotel's work has been "absolutely vital" to keep them informed of the coronavirus crisis while Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Abi Brown said she hopes after lockdown the government recognises the "need to support councils with an adequate level of funding" to stop people from having to sleep on the streets.

"I'm proud of what we've done," said a member of hotel staff, adding "it feels pretty good" to be able to "just get people housed".

Image caption,
Ms Vernall said spending eight weeks in the hotel has given her "motivation"

Councils in England were given £3.2m from the government as part of an emergency scheme called "Everyone In", which was aimed at stopping the spread of the virus and help rough sleepers.

But earlier this month, it emerged government funding for that scheme was to end. The government said it had given councils an extra £3.2bn in funding to help them deal with the pandemic, although that money is not specifically for the emergency rough sleeping scheme.

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