Now we’re living in a half in, half out sort of normality, when sunbathing in the park all day is fine, and clapping for carers seems a lifetime ago, it’s interesting to think about what lockdown was like early on. Remember Everybody In? The initiative that took rough sleepers off the streets and into hotels? You could be forgiven for thinking that was all a dream. But it happened.
In Radio 4’s The Homeless Hotel, we followed the fortunes of Simon, who’d been homeless for years. Allowed to stay for a few months in a Holiday Inn Express in Manchester, Simon took some time to really sort himself out. The hotel staff helped him, and Simon found he had £4,000 in benefits sitting in a bank account! Wa-hey! But the money slipped through his hands like water, spent on presents for people, drugs for himself. Simon was, to use the formal parlance, “financially abused” by other homeless people in the hotel. The staff stepped in. They told him off. Louise, a police officer, gave him “the biggest telling-off he’d ever had in his life”.