It started out as a kind-hearted gesture to help people in need as the coronavirus crisis hit, and has led to Shrewsbury making headlines all over the world.
Mike Matthews, chairman of Shrewsbury BID and owner of the Prince Rupert Hotel, opened his doors to some of the most vulnerable members of Shrewsbury’s community to prevent them from being on the streets during the pandemic.
As hotels and all other businesses were forced to close, the Prince Rupert became a safe haven for 25 homeless people in Shrewsbury.
The story was chronicled by local documentary maker, Alex Gatenby, and quickly spread to the national press, being featured by The Guardian and BBC News, and attracting thousands of views on social media.
The inspiring tale of how Mike and the team at the Prince Rupert are giving people a second chance has now made its way over to the United States, with Newsweek featuring the story as the main article on its website on Wednesday (May 20).
Mike said publicity was far from his mind when taking the decision to provide accommodation for the homeless back in March.
“It was never our intention to seek publicity for this, in actual fact we actively tried to discourage it initially,” he said.
“The film made by Alex struck the right balance and we were very happy with it, but we never expected things to take off like they have.
“Our number one priority is to provide safe accommodation for the people here, and we are now working with Shropshire Council and the relevant organisations to try to find a longer-term solution for every one of them.
“But in the meantime, we hope the positive publicity it has brought to Shrewsbury will be of benefit to the town.
“Everyone is going to need a helping hand as we work our way through this crisis, and we will need to work together as a community to put Shrewsbury on the map as a tourist destination.
“If we have helped to demonstrate that we are a welcoming, friendly place with warm, caring people, then that can only be a good thing.”
Seb Slater, executive director of Shrewsbury BID, said other businesses had been inspired by the generosity of the team at the Prince Rupert Hotel.
“These are very tough times for all businesses, and we have been working hard to support our members as we move into the next phase of the recovery,” he said.
“The generous and caring attitude of Mike and his team at the Prince Rupert has been an inspiration to us all, and it’s been wonderful to see the story spreading around the globe and putting Shrewsbury on the international stage.”
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