Homeless men's tears of joy after Gary Neville offers building to stay in
Millionaire Manchester United legend Gary Neville made a group of homeless men cry after giving them somewhere to stay this winter.
The former footballer is allowing around 30 mainly young men to squat in Manchester's former stock exchange building, which he is developing into a boutique hotel.
Homeless Wes Hall said: "I love the guy," after dissolving in tears when he said the former England footballer told him on the phone he would not be turfed out onto the streets.
Mr Hall said Neville gave the go-ahead to stay in the imposing oak-panelled, Grade II listed building in the city centre, after he and others were moved on from other buildings and had to live in tents.
Mr Hall said while speaking to a developer working on the site on Friday he was then given the phone to speak directly to Gary Neville.
"He handed me the phone he said, 'Gary on it,' he spoke to me he said, 'Look, I've not got a problem with you staying here, look after the building and respect the actual building.
"I recognised his voice."
Mr Hall, a Burnley FC fan continued: "I cried. It's crazy because my little brother, he's a Man United fan and I had to spend 10 years of my life growing up in a Man United bedroom because Burnley didn't do wallpaper so I grew up hating United, now I love, I love the guy."
He said the news was also greeted with tears of joy by others.
"Quite a few of them were crying too. They now have got some form of stability, they've never had trust, they've never had stability, they've never had anyone represent them or speak out for them. Now they are like a family.
"We can actually plan for the next few months, we can actually deliver some serious programmes, we can deliver some workshops.
"We have never had a case where the owner has said, 'We are not going to pursue an IPO (Interim Possession Order), we are actually just going to let you stay there, it's beyond belief."
Mr Hall said the group, made up of around 30 homeless people and 20 of what he said were "activists" have permission to stay until February, when the next phase of development work on the building is scheduled.
Planning permission to turn the Stock Exchange into a 35-bedroom luxury hotel was granted earlier this year, with former United team-mates Neville and Ryan Giggs the funders behind the project.
The building will house a gym, spa, roof terrace for members, and a ground floor restaurant, according to architects AEW.
Mr Hall said a local chef had already been in contact to help organise a Christmas meal.
He added: "This isn't a doss, this isn't a squat, this isn't a party, this is a hub where we are going to change lives."
Wesley Dove, homeless for the last 12 months and living in a tent, added: "It's a beautiful building, now we know we can stay we can start doing work. It is a bit of security for winter."