Shropshire Star

Shrewsbury hotel owner pledges to continue helping homeless

The owner of a Shropshire hotel which became a home for rough sleepers during the coronavirus lockdown says he plans to carry on looking after the homeless until all his guests have somewhere to live.

Mike Matthews, centre, with staff and homeless guests at the Prince Rupert Hotel

It is expected that hotels will be able to start taking bookings from the general public next month, but Mike Matthews who keeps the four-star Prince Rupert Hotel in Shrewsbury said it was unlikely he would be taking that opportunity.

The Prince Rupert began taking in rough sleepers shortly after the Government announced the lockdown on March 23.

The new rules meant hotels could no longer take in members of the general public, but they also required local authorities to find accommodation for all rough sleepers, and Mr Matthews agreed to provide accommodation for them in his hotel.

He said there was no question of him asking them to leave once the lockdown restrictions had been lifted.

"We're going to see the job through, some of them have made tremendous progress," he said.

Mr Matthews said while the Government funding for the homeless would inevitably come to and end eventually, the people staying at the hotel would have a roof over their heads as long as they needed one.

"There is no way we would say 'we're opening up again now, you can go back onto the streets," he said.

"I think if we did that, they would never trust anybody again."

Mr Matthews said he was already subsidising some of the cost of their accommodation, and would continue to do so as long as he had the support of his Swedish bank.


"In Sweden they have a very positive attitude towards homeless people," he said.

Mr Matthews said many of his guests had already moved into suitable accommodation, and he was confident this would be done for the rest.

"I'm not saying we can sort out the entire homeless problem, and I'm not saying some of them will not end up back on the streets," he said.

"They are complex characters, and some of them may go back to sleeping rough because that's what they want to do."

But Mr Matthews added that most of the people staying at the hotel had made huge progress, and were not really any different from normal paying guests.

He added that many of them had been helping with jobs around the hotel.

"It has been hugely rewarding to see the progress that they have made," he said. "I think most of them will be able to move into suitable accommodation very soon."