IHG works with London mayor to provide 300 hotel rooms for rough sleepers

Londoners sleeping rough will be given vital protection from coronavirus as the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, with support from the Government, secured 300 Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) hotel rooms where they can self-isolate over the coming weeks.

The Mayor’s team has worked with IHG to block-book the rooms in two London hotels for the next 12 weeks. Rough sleepers, who are already known to the homelessness charities supported by the Mayor, will be moved to the rooms.

City Hall will then continue to work with a range of partners, including London’s boroughs and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, to identify others sleeping rough and ensure everyone gets the support they need. The Mayor’s emergency response is being provided with the backing of the Government, which – with the Mayor – has provided funding to kickstart this work.

The Mayor’s team is also working with black cab drivers, via hailing apps FreeNow and Gett, who have volunteered to help transport people between support services.

Rough sleepers are significantly more likely to have underlying health conditions – including respiratory problems – than the wider population. They are also far less likely to be able to follow Public Health England advice, such as self-isolation, social distancing and handwashing. Much existing accommodation available to rough sleepers, while vitally important, is unsuitable for self-isolation.

The rooms are being provided at a substantially discounted rate. This forms part of the Mayor’s and the Government’s wider efforts to protect rough sleepers during this difficult time – his team will continue to work with IHG and other hotel operators to see if further such block-bookings will be possible as and when they are needed.

Khan said, “The coronavirus outbreak affects everyone in London and we must do all we can to safeguard everyone’s health – not least those Londoners who face spending each night sleeping rough on the capital’s streets.

“Rough sleepers already face difficult and uncertain lives and I’m determined to do all I can to ensure they, along with all Londoners, are given the best protection possible.

“My heartfelt thanks go to InterContinental Hotels Group for stepping up and playing their part in helping protect rough sleepers during this difficult period.

“We are also very grateful to the black cab drivers from FreeNow and Gett who have offered to transport rough sleepers to these rooms, helping them to avoid using public transport.

“Together, as a city, we will come through this incredibly challenging period.”

Managing Director, UK&I for InterContinental Hotels Group – owners of the Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Crowne Plaza brands, Karan Khanna, said, “The current situation is unprecedented and people’s health and wellbeing must be the top priority. We are pleased to be working closely with the Mayor’s office and GLA to use our hotels to contribute to the recovery effort in London.”