London's Homeless Put Up in Free Hotels Over Christmas
Offered two-week stay in hotel room over holidays with three square meals a day
The homeless population living on the streets of London, UK, have been given free hotel accommodation over Christmas.
The city's homeless residents were offered a two-week stay in a hotel over the festive holidays, along with three square meals a day and virtual appearances from celebrities.
Crisis Christmas, a homelessness charity, normally uses large-scale dormitories to house rough sleepers over the Christmas period but has been unable to this year due to the COVID-19 transmission risk.
However, in a break with nearly 50 years of tradition, the charity has instead paid for 517 hotel rooms at four London hotels which were provided by the London Hotel Group at reduced rates.
"Normally, we would be running 10 centers with 4,000 guests and 12,000 volunteers," Crisis Christmas boss Ian Richards told The Sunday Times.
"Then this came along, and we just really had to stop and reinvent the wheel from scratch."
"We didn't want to do anything less," Richards added.
"Our first objective was to offer as much as we always have done in a different way."
Guests will receive three hot meals a day - delivered via room service, according to The Daily Mail.
A special app created by a volunteer will allow residents to stream entertainment from a phone.
It will also let them know when health services - including a podiatrist - can be used in the hotel.
Actors Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce and pop star Ellie Goulding are set to virtually appear for a streamed quiz on Christmas Day.
Homelessness charities have said several households were "badly affected" by the coronavirus crisis - even before the peak hit.
Job losses, a short-lived eviction, and a lack of government-funded hotel stays in the second nationwide lockdown are feared to have not been enough to help those desperately in need.
Some 36,690 households were classified as being homeless between January and March this year, according to statistics from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
A further 38,450 households were assessed as being threatened with homelessness within 56 days over the same period.
More recent reports on homelessness figures have not yet been released, but the number of people on the streets is understood to have increased in the Autumn.
In the first lockdown, 15,000 fully-funded hotel stays were offered to Britain's homeless.
This scheme was not repeated in the second round of nationwide restrictions.
Increased funding for organisations and councils was offered instead.