Official rough sleeper count figures published recently show that there are a third fewer people sleeping rough in Bedford Borough than there were a year ago. While it’s encouraging that things are going in the right direction, it’s vital this continues.
Rough sleeping has rocketed nationally in recent years, but while there are many national causes we can work on local solutions. That’s what we’re doing alongside excellent local charities and other partners, with the raft of new services and facilities introduced over the last year or so.
Last spring, we opened Clarence House, which has 29 units of accommodation including for those rough sleepers with the most complex needs and difficulties.
This winter, we won government funding for new support including up to 32 new units of accommodation, six new outreach workers and 20 new overnight beds throughout the winter.
The Council is working with partners including SMART and the King’s Arms Project on the new services, and these are in addition to the existing services and facilities in the Borough, such as YMCA’s accommodation and support, the Nightshelter run by the King’s Arms Project, the Severe Weather Provision via the Salvation Army and more and more.
When I’ve visited these facilities and services, the dedication of staff and volunteers has been plain to see, and the difference they make for some of the most vulnerable people in our community is huge.
They deserve our support, and the best way to help those in need in our Borough is to contribute to the work these excellent local charities do. For example, SMART’s ‘CRiB’ appeal in aid of the Prebend Day Centre is open until the end of February. See https://smartcjs.org.uk/crib-appeal-bedford-homeless/ for details
Finally, if you are aware of someone sleeping rough you can report their location and any details at www.streetlink.org.uk. The council and other agencies would rather be told several times about someone sleeping rough than not at all.
This is a monthly guest column provided by
Mayor Dave Hodgson and published unedited.