SMART Prebend Centre’s emergency appeal has raised an amazing £26,500 thanks to the generosity of kind-hearted Bedfordians.
The appeal was launched in March as the coronavirus lockdown was announced.
The fund was created to fill an anticipated shortfall in donations from groups who would usually meet and raise money for the SMART Prebend Homeless Day Centre.
The homeless charity reports seeing an increased number of people accessing their drug & alcohol and homeless services as a result of COVID-19 and they believe this trend will continue.
“Lives have been turned upside down due to the pandemic; many have seen their income cut by 20% due to the furlough scheme, some have lost their income entirely, while others, sadly, have become homeless,” said Anita McCallum, SMART CJS’s CEO.
“I have been overwhelmed by the support we have received over the past four months; the local response to the virus has been unbelievable.
“I have seen individual donors giving money, cheques and making online donations, local groups holding online meetings and charitable trusts freeing up emergency funds to help small charities like SMART CJS survive.
“But it’s not all about money; the reaction we’ve had from locals offering to help with their time and donations of other goods has been phenomenal.
“From donations of clothing, food, and toiletries, to the many selfless and brave Bedford heroes joining our team as volunteers.”
Jen Robus, Bedford Manager adds, “The appeal has been another extraordinary example of the Bedford community uniting to help those in need; I am amazed and humbled by your efforts to keep people safe.
“This has been a remarkable time for us all, but once again the community has pulled together.”
The generous donations have helped the charity to set up and keep operational a temporary hotel-based homeless service in response to the virus.
Money has funded Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline staff and volunteers and has made possible the purchase of laptops so workers can record and access vital information.
Funds from the appeal have helped to keep safe Bedford’s homeless in secure accommodation during the pandemic, helping to protect the vulnerable people accessing the hotel, the NHS and the wider community.
To date, SMART CJS has supported more than 60 individuals per month and has seen numerous positive outcomes for service users, with many being helped into suitable accommodation.
Mrs McCallum said, “Whatever comes next, SMART CJS remains committed to preventing further homelessness and supporting those already homeless to take the steps they need to create a better life.”