Concrete help house rough sleepers during COVID crisis.

More than 30 homeless people in Stoke-on-Trent have been moved into hotel accommodation, so they can stay safe and self-isolate during the coronavirus pandemic.

Homeless charity, Concrete, working alongside Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Holiday Inn Express, and Walk Ministries, have helped those with nowhere to live or self-isolate safely, and to make sure they are getting the help and support they need.

This has included getting other professionals and organisations into the hotel for drop in sessions with the residents, such as health check with a nurse, support for their mental health or appointments with addiction services.

The charity’s support staff are also on hand 24 hours a day to help them create a plan for the future and not just the here and now. The team are helping to connect residents to a suitable home that’s fit for their needs, and provide guidance and advice to help them develop the skills to live independently in the long run.

Sarah Forshaw, Head of Housing, Homelessness and Complex Needs at Concrete: “We’re committed to making sure this isn’t just a band aid to homelessness and we’ve worked alongside our partners to make sure everyone in the project can access and get the support they need.

“Every adult matters and out of this challenging time we find ourselves in has come the opportunity to connect and build trust with new customers and help them realise their next steps to a more concrete future. Working with our partners has been key and I couldn’t be more proud or grateful to everyone involved in making this happen.”

Residents have also been getting extra support from people at Walk Ministries with previous experience of homelessness. Sarah explained: “Speaking to someone who has walked in their shoes really helps our customers and gives them hope and inspiration.”

Simon Edwards from Walk Ministries added: “Not only are we meeting amazing people but we have the privilege to get to know them, listen to what they want next, let them know about support and opportunities and then walk with them towards the next step of their journey.”

Gareth Beeston is the hotel’s Operations Manager. He said: “Once we realised that there was an opportunity out there to help and make such a difference to people’s lives during these times it was really exciting news. It’s been really rewarding for everyone involved over the past couple of weeks since we started to be part of this fantastic project, the team and I have enjoyed welcoming everyone into the hotel and we are now on first name terms with all of our residents which is great !

Sean Lowe, CEO of Atlas Hotels, which the Holiday Inn Express is part of, said: “The team at Stoke feel very much part of the wider community. The staff at the hotel are a credit to Atlas and to the city of Stoke, we’re all very proud that they’ve played a part in helping others during the crisis.  Obviously the work is very different from what the team are used to, normally the hotel has business and leisure guests, being where it is situated, but the team see all residents as valued guests, whatever the circumstances and we’re proud that the standards and care is the same as it always is.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Abi Brown said: “I am delighted that working together we have put in place a solution that protects homeless people during the COVID-19 outbreak, and I’d like to thank partners for their enthusiasm and support on this. We are working innovatively to provide the right support for homeless people so that there are appropriate facilities and accommodation during this health crisis and for the future.”