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Christians asked to find room for 'family' of Games athletes

With soaring hotel prices there may be no affordable room at the inn, but Christians are now being asked to provide free accommodation at next year's Commonwealth Games.

Eight different denominations, including the Church Of Scotland, are seeking to recruit hundreds of people to become B&B hosts for athletes' families, coaches, friends and Games volunteers for 10 days - many of whom would otherwise struggle to afford the Games' experience.

Visitors to Glasgow are facing soaring accommodation costs during the Games, with a budget hotel room for the full event costing up to £6000.

Some rooms were being advertised online for as much as £500 a night via booking agents. Rates at one hotel that ordinarily charges as little as £32 a night had gone up 1282% for the Games.

But now Christians are being asked to fill the gap with an initiative called More Than Gold.

"Welcoming strangers is a mark of Christian service and a key activity in the context of More Than Gold. That is why More Than Gold wants church members to open their houses to the relatives of those taking part in the Games," said Chris Macrae, a Church Of Scotland representative in the initiative.

"During past Games the cost of hotel accommodation has soared. As a result, many visiting volunteers and the 'support family' for many athletes - their family members, team officials, personal coach, friends critical to their support - could not afford to stay in the host city or be present to support their family member.

"At the same time, many of these visitors from overseas would struggle to make the most of the experience without the practical help and care of a hospitable host.

"The majority of hosts will be needed in Glasgow but we also need hosts in and around other venues, including Edinburgh, Dundee and Motherwell."

The project's homestay programme involves giving free accommodation and breakfast for 10 days.

The Games will welcome 6500 athletes and officials from 71 nations, 15,000 volunteers making the events happen, as well as the tens of thousands of visitors to Scotland from across the Commonwealth.

More Than Gold 2014 will build on the success of its namesake at the London 2012 Olympics.

Volunteers will also offer "genuine and generous Christian hospitality" in different forms, from simply offering free cups of water to potentially providing hundreds of 'homestays' for athletes' families "and much in between".

Pastoral or chaplaincy support linked to the Games organisers' needs, "including helping where possible with action in support of the social issues - which will be highlighted by the Games", is also needed. Other help involves "providing quality entertainment via big screen family events in churches and their halls.

Mr Macrae added: "More Than Gold 2014 believes that this will help build a legacy of cooperation and Christian love beyond 2014 in the city of Glasgow."

Through More Than Gold, London 2012 , churches gave 13,000 hours of voluntary service to travellers. This came from a team of 300 Games Pastors at 10 major railway stations, two airports, a coach station and key tourist sites.

Family members of athletes enjoyed more than 2000 nights of free hospitality and about 500,000 people attended community events run by churches.

A Glasgow 2014 spokeswoman said the organisation was working with tourism and travel partners to ensure a range of affordable accommodation options were available for people coming to the Games.

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