Incidents at Peterborough hotel used to house homeless

A move to house rough sleepers at a Peterborough hotel during the coronavirus lockdown has given many the support they need but has also seen police called more than a dozen times in a month.
Holiday Inn Express at Orton Northgate, Peterborough exteriors EMN-200427-154427009Holiday Inn Express at Orton Northgate, Peterborough exteriors EMN-200427-154427009
Holiday Inn Express at Orton Northgate, Peterborough exteriors EMN-200427-154427009

Rough sleepers in the city were given rooms at the Holiday Inn Express in Orton following a Government order for accommodation to be found for 
them within 24 hours on March 26.

A total of 25 rough sleepers moved into the hotel within a day, each given individual rooms, to encourage social distancing.

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The council is now housing more than 80 former rough sleepers

A council spokesman said the move to the Orton hotel was designed to be temporary and on April 18 the residents were moved to three hotels in the city.

However, a Cambridgeshire police spokesman confirmed officers had been called to the Orton hotel 13 times since March 13.

Police calls to the hotel included ‘low level anti-social behaviour’ complaints.

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A team of volunteers, including former police officers have now been providing an extra security presence around the hotels, and there are daily meetings with police.

The move into hotels has also enabled some rough sleepers to get the help they need, and housing staff are working with a number of them to find suitable long term accommodation.

An army of over 60 volunteers has been helping the former rough sleepers settle into their new temporary homes, and co-ordinate the effort to supply 1,500 meals a week.

Steven Pettican, chief executive officer at the Light Project Peterborough, said: “We have been humbled by the number of volunteers, both within the Light Project Peterborough and in partner organisations who have gone out of their way to provide food, support and a listening ear to the former rough sleepers.

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“Providing three meals a day has been a military operation – particularly for charities like ours who rely on volunteers and have effectively had their fundraising dry up during Covid-19.

“We’ve also been providing a listening service, encouraging them to reflect on their current situation and to ask themselves if they really want to return to the streets once they press ‘play’ on their lives again.

“The feedback we’ve received from individuals who genuinely want to turn their lives around has made this worth it.”

Councillor Steve Allen, cabinet member for housing at Peterborough City Council, said: “For many of the former rough sleepers, the experience of being in a hotel room and eating three hot meals a day has been a positive one.

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“We have found that the vast majority are grateful and appreciative of the support they are receiving and are viewing this as the impetus they needed to turn their lives around and are now engaging with the council, ourselves and other partners to work through the issues that led them to a life on the streets.”