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Builders interrupt Christmas party to pay for 71-year-old homeless woman to stay in four-star hotel

Three colleagues spend £145 on a room for woman, who said she has been sleeping on the streets for 18 years

Benjamin Kentish
Thursday 21 December 2017 14:39 GMT
Roger Hartigan said the homeless woman 'became our priority' after he and his colleagues met her during a night out
Roger Hartigan said the homeless woman 'became our priority' after he and his colleagues met her during a night out

Three builders interrupted their Christmas party to help pay for an elderly homeless woman to stay in a hotel.

Roger Hartigan, Joe Rich and David Harrison were enjoying a night out in Bristol when they bumped into the 71-year-old woman, who did not give her name.

She was sheltering from the cold amid near-freezing temperatures, with all her belongings around her in plastic bags. She told the men she had been living on the streets of Bristol for 18 years.

After stopping to speak to the woman, the group said they decided to pay for her to stay in a hotel for the night.

They tried to hail a taxi to take her there but when all refused to stop, they split up and went to search for an available hotel room she could stay in.

Mr Hartigan said: "I saw this woman and she looked very fragile. She said she was 71 years old and had nowhere to go.

"We gave her some money and some cigarettes and we tried to hire her a taxi to take her to a hotel - but none would stop. So some of the guys ran ahead to find a hotel with a spare room and I walked with her through the centre of town, carrying her stuff.

"Then one of the lads called to say they'd found a room in a hotel opposite the Hippodrome. We walked her there and checked her in."

The trio paid £145 between them for her to stay at the four-star Radisson Blu hotel in the upmarket Broad Quay area of Bristol, overlooking the harbour. The hotel’s websites promises “spacious rooms and suites…with views of the harbour or city”.

The three colleagues paid £145 between them for the 71-year-old to stay in a hotel 

Explaining why he and his friends felt obliged to help the woman, Mr Hartigan said: "She was just so vulnerable - there was no way I could leave her.

"I think she was a bit shocked at what was happening when I said we'd find her a hotel, but I reassured her we weren't taking the mick.

"We just wanted to make sure she was safe. We were out on our Christmas do but once we saw her she became our priority."

According to official figures, there are 86 people sleeping rough in Bristol at any one time, although the real figure is likely to be higher. Last year, 1,100 people in the city were declared homeless.

Marvin Rees, the city’s Labour mayor, recently told the Bristol Post: "We are incredibly disappointed, but not surprised, that despite all the hard work of people across the city the number of people sleeping rough on the streets of Bristol continues to rise.

"The increasing intensity of the city and the country's housing crisis is the reason we have made homes and communities one of our very highest priorities - from rough sleeping to the hidden homeless.”

"National policy is making more people poorer and more vulnerable - this is the context in which we are providing services."

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