UK

Hotel steps in to give rooms to homeless over Christmas

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Media captionGroup founder: Hull hotel 'discriminating' against homeless people

A second hotel in Hull has stepped in to offer 28 homeless people rooms over Christmas after their previous booking by a homeless project was cancelled.

The group had been due to stay at the Royal Hotel in Hull but were then told they could not, prompting an outcry.

The hotel later said they had been told about damage to rooms by the group at an Ibis hotel last Christmas.

Raise the Roof Hull Homeless Project says the allegations are "lies" and Ibis denies the claim.

Reacting to the offer by the Doubletree Hilton, which also includes Christmas dinner, Carl Simpson, from the project, said: "Who says miracles don't happen?"

He told the BBC the group had originally booked 14 twin rooms for 28 people for £1,092, hoping to build on the success of last year's event at the Ibis.

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It said The Royal Hotel originally accepted the booking, and that they had not attempted to conceal the guests' backgrounds.

"We told them up front they were for homeless people," Mr Simpson said. "They were fine with that."

A spokesperson for the hotel said the company had been warned by a "former project worker" not to take the booking.

Image copyright Carl Simpson
Image caption Mr Simpson organised rooms for 28 homeless people on Christmas eve and Christmas day in 2017

"We received a call from a lady... who worked for the charity last year," the spokesperson said.

"She had rung to warn us that the group had caused serious problems at the Ibis and that she felt we should not take the booking.

"Among the issues last year were trashing of rooms, fires, theft of hotel goods and property and damage to property.

"The hotel has a number of families and tours staying at the hotel over the Christmas period which we feel would suffer if the booking was taken."

The spokesperson added that the hotel would reinstate the booking, with conditions.

The Ibis chain told the BBC it did not recognise the allegations.

In a statement, it said: "We can confirm that we welcomed a group of homeless people for two nights last Christmas booked by Raise the Roof Homeless Project, and that the organisers felt the stay was very successful.

"We don't recognise any allegations that these guests caused serious problems such as fire or theft in the hotel."

One of the homeless people who attended the Ibis hotel last year told the BBC: "It was the best Christmas present you could get, really. It's such a relief to be off the streets even for that one night."

'Who says miracles don't happen?'

Image copyright Carl Simpson
Image caption Homeless people in Hull were looking forward to having a roof over their heads for Christmas

Mr Simpson revealed that the Royal Hotel Hull had cancelled the booking in a Facebook post on Saturday evening.

The post has been shared by more than 1,500 people a flood of donations has raised more than £9,000.

In a press release on Monday evening, Raise the Roof Homeless Project announced the Doubletree Hilton had offered to put up the 28 people for two nights free of charge, with breakfast and Christmas dinner provided. They added they were declining the Royal Hotel Hull's offer to reinstate their booking.

"We have had an amazing amount of donations that we were not expecting, we will be having a meeting in the new year to decide who to best use them to support the homeless further," the statement said.

By Victoria Park & Patrick Evans, UGC & Social News

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