Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs’ offer of refuge to homeless shows when good news is good news
The old adage is that ‘bad news is good news’. However, one headline making the national press is enough to warm anyone’s heart this winter. A group of homeless people in Manchester – called the Manchester Angels – occupied the city’s old stock exchange building, which has been bought by Manchester United footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, who are planning to renovate the site to turn it into an exclusive boutique hotel with a gym, spa and private member’s terrace.
However, when the Manchester Angels were found squatting in the building, rather than rushing to the courts to obtain an eviction notice, Neville and Giggs decided that they could stay, not just for a few days but for the whole of winter.
This show of generosity may well save some lives over winter, as hypothermia can often cause fatalities during the colder months. What’s even more comforting about the story is that it shows a great gesture of humanity, which has provided positive publicity without any cynicism. In a media landscape where good gestures are often reserved for the ‘And finally’ or ‘news in brief’ section, the story of Neville and Giggs’ generosity has graced all the national papers, as well as the BBC and other broadcasters.
From a PR perspective, while it has no doubt gathered great publicity for the planned hotel, the focus has been on the Manchester Angels, who have shone a light on the issue of homeless people and the challenges they face during winter. Neville and Giggs have remained quiet on the issue, and the interviews and soundbytes have come from the spokespeople for Manchester Angels themselves. And in a sea of bad news in the press – escalating conflict in Israel/Gaza, a journalist found dead in Istanbul airport are just some of today’s headlines – the story of the homeless people finding refuge is a welcome positive story.