Why this Christmas will be a special one for some of Manchester's former rough sleepers

  • Emma Sweeney's report on the former rough sleepers spending Christmas at a Manchester hotel.

For many people 2020 will be remembered as a year eclipsed by sorrow and sadness.

The spread of Covid-19 has led to thousands of deaths, separated families, destroyed livelihoods and disrupted everyday life as we know it. But this is a multilayered story - for others, 2020 will go down as the year that changed their lives for the better.

Lockdown hotels

When the UK first went into lockdown on 23 March, there was some concern over what would happen to those who didn't have a place to call home. After all, how could people be expected to exercise social distancing if they had nowhere to go?

Within days there seemed to be a solution to this issue when the government's Everyone In campaign led to the temporary housing of thousands of rough sleepers into hotels.

The Holiday Inn Express opened its doors to rough sleepers back in March Credit: ITV Granada Reports

In Manchester, one of the hotels that remains open to rough sleepers is The Holiday Inn Express in Gorton. Around 55 people are currently being cared for there by staff from the Riverside Housing Association as part of the Mayor's A Bed Every Night scheme.

Andy Shearing is one of the residents who's currently staying at the hotel. He told Granada Reports moving into the Holiday Inn Express saved his life.

He's used poetry to express his gratitude towards those who've helped him.

While Christmas 2020 will feel strange and perhaps even sad for some, for many of the residents staying at the Holiday Inn Express, this year has provided them with a new hope for the future.