A homeless man has lifted the veil on his ‘disgusting’ stay in a filthy Scottish hostel which costs more than £ 200 in public money per week.
Marius Samavicius described how he lost all hope when he was forced to live in the Copland Hotel in Glasgow for two months – sleeping in a dirty, bug-infested room on a dirty bed.
The 29-year-old art graduate, who found himself homeless after leaving England for Glasgow earlier this year, told the Record he wanted to speak out to help protect other vulnerable people who are stuck in Govan’s hostel for months.
Meanwhile, a homeless charity said it has already filed several complaints with city council about conditions there – which previous residents have called “evil” in reviews online, claiming that they had been “scared” and “hungry”.
Marius said: “This place made me feel like no one cares and I felt like I had no hope after studying so hard.
“This hotel is a business and was taking me £ 800 a month to live like this.
“For the board, continuing to send people to this place is a huge waste of taxpayer money.”
Marius grew up in poverty in Lithuania and moved to the UK ten years ago, where he worked in factories and learned English.
After studying fine arts in Bournemouth, he fulfilled his dream of moving to Glasgow six months ago in the hope of finding a job, but housing costs soared as the city emerged from its second closing and Marius was soon running out of savings.
He went to Glasgow City Council for help and received emergency accommodation at Copland.
He said: “There were a lot of bugs and when I opened my room it was full of flies. There was a mess on the floor and the walls.
“I was given dirty sheets and towels and when I asked to change rooms my new room was even worse.
“I understood the situation in which I found myself homeless. I can live in very basic conditions, but this place is so dirty that I was worried about my health – especially during a pandemic.
“There was a lot of noise and screaming.
“I was afraid it would be the rest of my life.
“I have met people who have been there for six months or even more.”
Marius said he spent his first two days hungry before learning that the price of his accommodation should include three meals a day.
He said the food was of poor quality and not always available.
He also claims staff did not always wear face masks and some would enter rooms without knocking and treating vulnerable residents poorly.
Marius said: “The food seemed to come from charities, but you didn’t know how long it had been there and the packaging was sometimes opened.
“I got annoyed when I got a letter from the city council and learned that my weekly housing allowance was £ 206.82.
“I spoke to the staff and asked for more supplies like toilet paper and clean towels.
“I didn’t want to complain too much at the time because I was already in a vulnerable position and didn’t want to be at a disadvantage.”
After eight weeks at the hostel, Marius said he was offered much superior temporary accommodation nearby.
After his departure, he lodged a formal complaint with the hotel and the council.
He said: “I’m in a better situation now, but I’m still worried about the people there. I felt like if I didn’t speak I would be a hypocrite.
Colin McInnes, president of Homeless Project Scotland, said Marius’ experience was not isolated.
He said: “We have filed several complaints with the city council regarding the conditions of this accommodation.
“We also invited Susanne Miller and Jim McBride (Managing Director and Head of Homelessness Services at Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership) to come and live there, bring their families and spend Christmas in these places – because they are disgusting
“You could live in a five bedroom house in Shawlands or in a penthouse for £ 800 a month.
“The reason this is happening is because there is a lack of compassion and care. “
Scottish Labor’s Housing spokesman Mark Griffin said the number of people stranded in temporary accommodation was a “national scandal”.
He said: “These sobering reports of dismal temporary housing must be a wake-up call.
“Sadly, far too many people in Scotland are in the same situation as Mr Samavicius – stuck in limbo for weeks and months, many forced to live in totally unacceptable conditions.
“We urgently need to raise the standards for temporary accommodation – but we also need to prevent so many people from being trapped there in the first place.
“People deserve safe and secure housing. The SNP must stop relying on this tacky plaster approach, and propose a real housing strategy. “
Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland, said Marius’ experience was “completely unacceptable”.
She said: “Life can be a nightmare for people living in temporary housing without a permanent safe place to live, so it is unthinkable to be faced with these conditions for so long.
“People shouldn’t have to worry about having access to clean and safe facilities.
“Good quality temporary accommodation is the cornerstone of our housing safety net. Hotels should only be used in exceptional circumstances and for a few days only.
“The real impact of this is not just the money it costs local authorities and individuals to stay in temporary accommodation – it is those who have lost their homes and find that the only help available is a room. dirty hotel, inappropriate or missing meals and a lack of consideration around Covid restrictions.
‘We are urging the Scottish Government to ensure that there is enough affordable housing for all who need it, so that no one has to live in temporary accommodation for long periods or pay for housing that does not meet their individual needs.
“We need to give hope to families in difficulty so that everyone can have the basics of a safe, secure and affordable home. “
The Copland Hotel said he had worked for Glasgow City Council for more than 20 years.
A spokesperson said: “We are regularly inspected by the council and we comply with all council regulations.
“We are only paid to provide accommodation and breakfast, but during this pandemic the council was providing meals to residents in the living room. This particular resident often refused to get food from the living room because he wanted to have it in the bedroom.
“Regarding cleanliness, we have 24 hour staff including cleaners and maintenance working to maintain standards, and I would like to mention that this particular resident has repeatedly failed to allow cleaners to enter his room. At all times, residents receive toilet paper rolls and basic services.
“Mr. Samavicius gives a misleading image of our company. His complaint against us did not mention his intention to benefit other residents, he asked for a refund, for services he did not pay for.
“I can assure you that our company and Glasgow City Council are working very hard to provide good service and help the most disadvantaged members of our society.
“Council staff work daily at our premises to provide additional assistance to the homeless and we would not be a provider of accommodation for the council if they were not satisfied with our services. “
A Glasgow City Council spokesperson said: ‘Bed and breakfasts or hotels are only used in emergencies and only for as short a period as possible.
“People experiencing homelessness who are staying in a B&B or hotel will receive support from social workers and our anti-homelessness team liaises directly with accommodation operators on a regular basis.
“If we receive any complaints about the accommodation or support available in a room, we will discuss them with the operators of those rooms.
“Work is underway to improve both the accommodation and support available in these premises.
“The amount of housing allowance spent on housing a homeless person reflects the cost of housing but also the cost of providing support services to that person. “
The Scottish Government has said it is “working to end homelessness and homeless sleep once and for all” with an investment of over £ 50million in this legislature.
He said £ 37.5million had already been given to local authorities to find more permanent accommodation for those staying temporarily.
A spokesperson said: “We will also introduce new laws to prevent homelessness before it happens and improve cooperation between health and housing services, with specific measures to help people with more complex needs. “
Former residents slam ‘evil’ Copland hotel in online reviews
Scathing online reviews of the Copland were left by former guests who described feeling ‘scared’ and ‘hungry’.
A review, posted on Google earlier this year, said: “This place is NOT a HOTEL, it is an HOSTEL that should have been closed a long time ago.
“The staff have absolutely no respect for anyone who has received a room from the Homelessness Team.
“The rooms are absolutely devilish riddled with rats, bed buds and other vermin, the bathrooms are covered in mold.”
“Something must be done about this horrible place !!!!”
Another review, published two years ago, said: “This place should be closed, it’s that simple. It’s extremely dirty, it’s not safe, and it’s not a place no one should ever be.
A desperate resident, who stayed three years ago, said: “It’s not a good place, I can’t always live here, the voices of the hair can’t sleep, I’m still afraid of it. police here.
“And in the cold I’m also hungry. I don’t know how tired life is here.
Don’t miss the latest news from across Scotland and beyond – Sign up for our daily newsletter here.