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Monday, 20 April 2020

South Lawn Hotel take in people in need of a temporary home

Tim Wedgwood, owner at South Lawn Hotel is helping out homeless and displaced people, whilst also providing a valuable service to the people of Milford on Sea with deliveries of takeaway food and bakery goodies.

They, and we, are lucky to have such selfless and caring people in the village as Tim & Nicki.

Jon Waller of the Advertiser and Times writes: 

A Milford hotelier has thrown open the doors of his establishment to put a roof over the heads of displaced and homeless New Forest people during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tim Wedgwood is currently hosting 16 occupants having opened up all 26 rooms at the South Lawn hotel, which overlooks the Solent and is also a wedding and conference venue.

The hotel serves each resident two meals per day and district council staff are visiting daily to check on the new residents’ welfare. Some of those staying there include a family who had to move out of their home because it caught fire.

Tim (52) said: “These are vulnerable people who need some help and it’s a really positive thing that we can help out and they can get help from us.

“They are living on the premises at the moment and have been extremely respectful to the hotel and a pleasure to have staying here.

“We have always stuck to the principle that if you treat others with respect they will treat you with respect and it’s worked very well up until now.”

Tim has also shared some more thoughts and an update he has given to all of the South Lawn Team:

When delivering lunches yesterday almost everyone I had chance to speak with asked about the article in New Milton Advertiser/Lymington Times which reported us opening our doors to "Homeless People".  Whilst everyone I spoke with has complimented our decision, I have realised that the article has raised as many questions as answers.  

Tim & Nikki
click image to enlarge
The term 'Homeless' is an unfortunate word, as it conjures up stereotypical thoughts that really only resemble a minority of people who currently have nowhere to live.  Consideration is also given to the many people that have been displaced from their homes as a result of the Coronavirus and that simply can't go home because they would jeopardise the safety of others who need to self isolate.  Then there is the lady who gave up her flat and bought a camper van to fulfil a life long dream to travel, the house fire, the family fall out and so on.  The circumstances are widespread and very worthy of consideration. Indeed the desperate situation many people now find themselves in led us to make our decision and we are happy to welcome anybody the council asks us to whatever their circumstances might be.

The one question I keep being asked is how are we operating the hotel and looking after the guests without putting ourselves at risk?  Below is last weeks update letter to our live-out staff which answers this.

Tim 's update to the South Lawn Team:

Being unable to open the bar, restaurant and function room and of course keeping all of us who live here safe has meant that the way we operate the hotel has had to change significantly. Services that would normally be expected of us as a leading hotel are for now not a requirement. Bedrooms cannot be serviced during a stay, the temporarily displaced guests have their own cleaning products and linen change is once a week, every Friday. You will be encouraged to know that all the guests who have departed to permanent accommodation so far have left their rooms in an immaculate, clean and tidy state. It is clear that their appreciation for our help is returned with huge respect which makes our gesture even more of a pleasure to oblige. 

All rooms for now have their own fridges, crockery and cutlery which the guests keep in their rooms. We provide cereal, milk, butter and orange juice to residents as part of their breakfast, a freshly baked croissant and bread roll are delivered to their door each morning to supplement this. We also provide an evening meal each day, main course and sweet which is delivered to the guests door in take away containers, chef is doing an incredible job. 

We have a mobile phone as a direct line 24 hours a day for the council. We have night security, Patrick who is SIA registered and has worked for us previously in hotels prior to South Lawn. 

NFDC are using our library as an office, we are working very closely with them to provide this important facility. 

The hotel has been segregated to allow for us that live here to keep ourselves as a family unit separate to the hotel guests. The restaurant has become the hub for those of us that live on site. We have a TV area, well spaced dining areas, a pool table and a table tennis table to keep us all entertained and sane. We have also moved the switchboard into the restaurant so that we can take orders and continue to deal with the more usual hotel enquiries. Reception is closed and contact with residents is mostly via phone. A video entry doorbell allows us to let guests in if they don’t have their key with them. 

Of course we would prefer to be looking after our usual business, we miss our daily Probus and Other Club lunches, weddings and functions and by now we would be enjoying serving teas on the lawn alongside a busy restaurant. All the regular residents would be with us enjoying their much loved breaks and the reviews we work so hard for would be streaming in on Trip Advisor. For sure I would be planning on how to invest from what should have been our most lucrative time of year. 

I hope that this provides you with a picture of what’s happening here at the hotel and whilst it may seem very surreal we are confident that we have done our best to help as many people as possible through this difficult time. Nikki and I are confident we will exit this crisis with strength and financial stability, we are doing our best to remain in good stead for the future and can assure you that we will value your inclusion in that when you return to work.

1 comment:

  1. You are being wonderful people - well done.
    This is a subject close to my heart and hope when we are through this the homelss situation will be better treated.