NHS workers thank Manchester hotels for rooms during crisis and call staff ‘unsung heroes’

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NHS Nightingale Hospital North West opened in Manchester in April to provide care for hundreds of patients with Covid-19 from across the region.

Now, the brave NHS workers have paid tribute to the Manchester hotels who have given them them a home-from-home while they work to help patients recover – and branded the hotel staff “unsung heroes”.

Manchester hotels including Whitworth Locke, Native, Stock Exchange and Hotel Indigo all stepped forward to offer their rooms and services during the crisis, offering free accommodation to hospital staff who live too far away from the centre of Manchester to travel in every day, or live with vulnerable people.

Claire Shepherd, the head of governance at the NHS Nightingale North West hospital, and Judith Ellis, the family liaison Team lead, have both been staying away from home every week since the beginning of April.

Both have been staying at Native aparthotel on Ducie Street, and in the last couple of weeks Judith and many other staff have moved to the Whitworth Locke aparthotel as maintenance work starts at Native.

The Native hotel staff could not have been more welcoming, said Judith, and they made every effort to create a home-from-home which made being away from friends and families so much more bearable for her and other NHS staff.

“The rooms were lovely, the service to replace linen and other essentials was so efficient and every day I was greeted home by name and with a truly interested enquiry about my day and indeed my health and welfare,” she said of the UK’s largest aparthotel in a Grade II listed former Victorian warehouse.

“I live quite a distance away from Manchester so it is great to be able to relax somewhere so comfortable at the end of my shifts.”

Ivy Kusaloka (24) from Preston, and Chloe Dilworth (21) from the Wirral, both clinical support workers at the temporary hospital, have been staying at Whitworth Locke on Princess Street for just over a month.

“I can’t drive, so travelling in from Preston every day to work on the wards would have been really impractical, and I also want to do everything I can to protect my dad, who is in a vulnerable group. Being at Whitworth Locke has made it much easier,” said Ivy.

“It’s beautiful, really homely and cosy, with the added bonus of a hotel vibe. There have been quite a few of us staying here so I’ve made new friends, and was able to get to know staff already working on the wards before I started my first shift.”

Photo: Nicholas Worley

Chloe says the manager at Whitworth Locke has been putting on quiz nights to help the staff get to know each other and alleviate loneliness or boredom, and that she has made some “really great friendships” through what has been a tough experience.

“I wanted to work at the Nightingale to help people rehabilitate and recover from Covid 19 because my grandad died from the virus, so it’s very personal for me,” she said.

“It’s such an emotional moment every time we clap a patient out as they leave us to go home. The provision of this accommodation has made it possible for me to be part of that.”

Both hotels answered the call from Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, which oversees the Nightingale North West, to support staff accommodation during the crisis.

“Our team were very keen to  support the NHS and other key workers. It was nice for us to be able to jump in, help, and do our bit, especially during the worst of the pandemic crisis,” says Jacqui Griffiths, General Manager at Native Manchester.

“What was really surprising and touching for us was that the NHS staff staying here kept finding the time to drop off flowers and chocolates for the team – they were working so hard but still managed to find time to do that. They are all really caring, lovely people and it was a pleasure to have them here at Native.”

“We pride ourselves on being a community focused business providing soulful hospitality to our guests who want a home-from-home experience so we were honoured and humbled to support the NHS colleagues sacrificing so much to help others,” agreed Matt Brierley, general manager at Whitworth Locke.

“The NHS colleagues who have used Whitworth Locke are certainly part of the family and welcome back anytime they wish. Thank you for everything you have done – it’s been a pleasure being in this together.”

New hotel Stock Exchange and Trafford’s Hotel Football, both co-owned by Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, also offered rooms to NHS staff during the crisis.

“A huge thank you to Gary and the team at GG Hospitality for this incredible gesture,” said Gill Heaton, group deputy chief executive at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), back in March.

“This will give a real boost to our hard-working NHS staff at MFT who are working round the clock to provide care for the communities we serve.”

Hotel Indigo next to Victoria Station has also been supporting key workers since the onset of the pandemic, by accommodating NHS staff and other essential workers as well as offering special packages to essential business workers who required a temporary office space.

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