Some sleep in luxury hotels, others beg at traffic lights – Manchester’s homeless reveal how lockdown has changed their lives
While a £5m scheme has given hundreds of homeless people a once in a lifetime opportunity – and a glimpse of how the rough sleeping crisis might be solved – others are struggling to adjust
Salvatore Raimo’s lived-in face suddenly cracks into a brilliant smile, exposing yellowing crooked teeth that hint at a life that has gone wrong.
I’m sitting in the reception of Innside hotel, in city centre Manchester, where rooms can cost up to £245 per night and visitors, in normal circumstances, can enjoy a gym, a spa, a restaurant and fantastic views of town.
But the hotel, like so many businesses, is closed to paying customers.
For now, the only occupants are about 40 homeless people who have been plucked from the streets or hostels around the city to save them from the coronavirus pandemic. They get three meals a day here and access to council services to address drug and alcohol problems.
Salvatore, 37, a chef from Naples, has been here four weeks now and I’ve just asked him what he thinks of his new surroundings.
“Amazing,” he says, that face suddenly transformed by that infectious, semi-toothless grin.
In broken English, he enthuses about his room with its flat screen TV, power shower with a dinner plate-sized shower head, fridge and a double bed.
“We don’t share nothing with somebody else,” Salvatore tells me.
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