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NHS staff offered free accommodation by local providers

By Tom Dare | Birmingham | Coronavirus | Published:

Midlands-based property providers are being encouraged to "do the right thing" and offer free accommodation to NHS staff fighting the coronavirus.

Bobby Singh, founder of loveyourpostcode.com, has announced that his company will be offering around 50 properties to NHS workers free of charge throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

And he wants other accommodation providers to do the same, saying that people will be remembered for “who you help, not how much money you make.”

Some other property providers, such as MECS Sales and Lettings, have already joined loveyourpostcode in offering their own properties free of charge, while a Facebook page has been set up where other companies can get involved.

Bobby, who has been running his company for 10 years, says he felt obliged to help when the scale of the pandemic began to become apparent.

And he added that others should step up to do the same, saying that “there is a time to make money, and there’s a time to serve your people.”

“I think at this moment in time, when you see what’s going on, and how people are protecting their families, I thought to myself ‘we could do with just providing NHS staff with somewhere to rest close to the hospital’,” he said.

“We’ve got properties that are doing nothing when key workers, on the front line, need a rest. So the idea was just give them apartments that you’re not gonna be using or selling or renting, over the course of the next few weeks, months – however long they require it.

“But there’s lots of service accommodation providers, hotels – a lot of people out there that I think are sitting on rooms. And I thought what they should be doing is, they should be contacting their local NHS, and saying that ‘we’ve got properties, and we’ve got no issue in giving you one of our apartments.’

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“If everybody did this in their own NHS Trust area, you could get a real positive response here. So yeah, anybody that wants to be a local hero should be considering this.”

“So we’ve got beautiful, city centre penthouses that are sitting vacant for sale, but they’re fully furnished. So the objective is to give these out. So what we’ve got is we’ve got inboxes full of people asking for help.

“And I thought it would be just NHS, but we’ve also got teachers, people that are operating emergency vehicles, who are saying ‘we’re also there, we’re also serving, can you help us?’”

Bobby says that while the original intention was to provide NHS staff with premises closer to their place of work, he’s also been inundated with requests from workers who wish to self-isolate from vulnerable or elderly family members.

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So he and other accommodation providers have set up a Facebook page to support those companies wishing to help – and the page already has over 200 members.

“What happened over the weekend was it became apparent that this wasn’t just for rest, it was more a case of protecting their loved ones,” he said.

“So what these guys are doing is in they’re on the frontline, and they’re at the greatest risk of contracting this virus, so what they want is a go-to place. So rather than going home, they want to feel safe in that they can go to this apartment, and it’s almost like working, but not taking it back home, so protecting their loved ones.

“I saw a story about a paramedic where the landlords had evicted him, and said ‘please, I don’t want that virus in my property’. Now imagine if that’s going on UK-wide, and there’s people sitting there with empty properties doing nothing, when really these individuals should be going into them.

“I don’t think there’s anything greater than serving the front line. So my background is I’m a fully practising Sikh, and at times like this you can’t be selfish. You know, you’ve got to serve. And if you serve people that are serving the country, you are almost frontline yourself.

“So today I can’t work in a hospital, but I can serve those that are serving my people. It’s the right thing to do. There’s a time to make money, and there’s a time to serve your people. You’ll be remembered for who you help. You won’t be remembered for how much money you make.

“So we’ve created a Facebook page, and my team have volunteered to carry on working.

“So they’re going to carry on taking phone calls for the business. So we’ve provided an email that people are contacting us on, we’ve got serviced accommodation providers that have shared this in all of their groups. So we’ve got companies coming to us, and we’re sharing their offerings on the group.

“But as I’ve said, it’s not about us. If you’ve got properties in the Midlands and you’re not sure how it would work then please, get in touch with us. Because I want people to think beyond loveyourpostcode and to be doing this themselves.

“Because if they all come to us then we may not be able to deal with it. But if people spread this story and share it then it will go further, and you can use our group if you’re not sure how to do it, or the logistics of it. The thing that we need right now is the properties.

“And they’re going to be absolutely for free, there isn’t going to be any cost.”

To find out more, or to offer your own properties to NHS staff for free, visit facebook.com/groups/2012953175502128/about

Tom Dare

By Tom Dare
@tomdare7

Local Democracy Reporter covering the West Midlands Combined Authority.

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