This 'incredible call' from a hotel owner helping the homeless left listeners 'in awe'

18 June 2020, 19:18 | Updated: 18 June 2020, 20:18

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Prince Rupert Hotel is housing the homeless during the coronavirus crisis, this is the moving call which led LBC listeners to brand the hotel owner "amazing".

Mike Matthews, the owner of the Prince Rupert Hotel in Shrewsbury, which is currently housing 31 homeless people during the coronavirus spoke to LBC.

He was speaking to LBC after our senior reporter Matthew Thompson found out some hotels in London which have been housing the homeless have started to ask rough sleepers to leave, as they are soon to go back into business.

Since the start of lockdown, nearly 15,000 rough sleepers have been moved into hotels and other emergency accommodation. It's been an incredibly successful scheme.

Mike's call sparked emotional replies to LBC on social media with listeners branding the hotelier "incredible."

One LBC listener even said she was in awe of him and his team.

Mike told LBC his hotel dates back to the 12th century, and has 70 bedrooms, with 4 stars.

He said he had been running the hotel for around 25 years, and that it has been a family business.

But when the coronavirus crisis struck he was told to close, as the Government put the lockdown into effect.

"This hotel is going on for 900 years old, I don't think it's ever been closed," he said.

The hotelier told LBC he was wracking his brains how he could keep his business operating when he had a call from the council "out of the blue" asking him to house the homeless during the coronavirus outbreak.

Mike said he met with the council and then spoke to his team and decided to go ahead with the project.

He said he had never been involved with the homeless before, and could "sadly say" previously he had walked past rough sleepers before.

Mike said it was a "humbling" project. When the first guest arrived, and he made it clear they were guests who would experience a four-star hotel, nothing less.

Telling the story of the first guest who arrived in the hotel, Mike said when he was taken to his room he burst into tears, as did the hotel staff.

"It was quite an emotional start to the whole procedure."

Heartbreakingly Mike said the first night that guest walked out of the hotel, not realising he would be allowed to stay there overnight.

"He's Polish, so the next day we typed out a letter, we gave it to him, and it simply said 'you are welcome to stay, this is your new home' and he returned." The guest has been at the Prince Rupert Hotel for three months.

Mike praised the generosity of the city, with two bedrooms now dedicated to new clothes for the rough sleepers.

"If you can just imagine someone that has lived in the same clothes for decades," Mike said it gave them back dignity and respect.

"We have two individuals who have spent over 35 years living on the streets," he told Eddie.

The Prince Rupert Hotel in Shrewsbury is housing homeless people during the coronavirus crisis
The Prince Rupert Hotel in Shrewsbury is housing homeless people during the coronavirus crisis. Picture: LBC

LBC listeners quickly took to Twitter to praise the hotel owner and his team.

Mike said, going forwards, the publicity he has received has generated funding to help house and support his guests.

Eddie asked why this could not be replicated everywhere, to which Mike had the perfect reply.

The LBC host ended the call by thanking Mike, maybe on behalf of the whole nation and telling him "you're the kind of person I aspire to be."

Watch the whole moving call in the video at the top of the page.