As part of the Home Office-funded Safer Streets project, the Prebend Day Centre will become a temporary community hub until at least March 2021.
The building, formally a day centre for rough sleepers and people experiencing homelessness will now act as a one-stop shop for a range of services, initiatives, and projects to support the local community.
The Midland Road area was awarded a grant of £430,000 in November as part of the nationwide Safer Streets initiative.
The intention is that the building will be available for use by voluntary sector, charitable, public sector, and community interest groups, at least on a temporary basis, instead of the centre being empty and unused.
“The Safer Streets project offers a real opportunity to work with the community around Midland Road, and invest with them in making their neighbourhood a safe place to be,” said Cllr Colleen Atkins, portfolio holder for community safety.
“We regularly work with organisations and businesses around Midland Road and I know how deeply people in this area care about their community.”
Using the Home Office funding secured by the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner and Community Safety Partnership, the hub will open in December and run until at least March 2021.
“The SMART Prebend Centre building was closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions and remains unusable as a homeless day centre”, said Anita McCallum, SMART CJS CEO.
“With Government funding and support locally, Bedford Borough Council was able to enact the “everyone in” policy.”
Since April 2020, homeless and rough sleepers have been supported by SMART, partner organisations, the Council and volunteers in temporary hotel accommodation.
“Our teams are providing meals, emotional support and help with accessing healthcare, welfare, benefits and housing advice,” explained Anita.
“Having everyone in once place is enabling us to support many more people who are experiencing homelessness to secure suitable accommodation.”
No CRIB Appeal this year, but you can still support SMART CJS
SMART CJS will not be running its annual CRIB Appeal this year and will, instead, be asking the community for particular items and/or monetary donations when needed.
Any monies kindly donated to SMART CJS as a one-off or by direct debit, as well as donated goods, will be used to:
• Support the homeless and rough sleepers with food, toiletries and access to health, mental health, housing and welfare & benefits services in the hotel in Bedford;
• Assist those who have made positive change in their lives and need help with making the transition to new, stable accommodation (e.g. food, furniture, clothes etc).
Jen Robus, SMART CJS Area Manager said, “Demand for shelter and housing is likely to increase as the effects of Covid bite deeper, with many more unable to pay for accommodation.
“We remain committed in supporting the vulnerable and will continue to act as a safety net for those that find themselves homeless. We thank everyone for their continued support.”
To support SMART CJS’s services in Bedford please visit their donations page.