Last week was Homelessness Awareness Week in Bedford, and there was an impressive range of events and activities taking place in and around the town.
I want to congratulate the local charities and groups who took the time and effort to take part and help inform the wider community about their work. Personally, with both the Kings Arms’ Bedford Nightshelter and YMCA Bedfordshire’s Weaver House throwing open their doors, I took the chance to visit their respective open days.
Once again I was impressed and extremely heartened by the knowledge, care and commitment of their teams towards supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
Tackling homelessness and rough sleeping is a clear priority for the Council, and we are fortunate to have excellent partner organisations locally. Rising homelessness and rough sleeping has been happening nationwide, but while there are national causes that does not mean we should not do all we can to find local remedies.
That’s why I was delighted that we won funding to launch a range of new services this winter to tackle rough sleeping. These include 10 new emergency beds through the winter, 32 new units of accommodation and more.
And these are all in addition to the new complex needs unit in Bedford, Clarence House, which we opened earlier this year and which provides accommodation with tailored support for very vulnerable homeless people locally.
At this time of year especially, people look to help those most in need, and local homeless charities provide plenty of opportunities to do so.
SMART’s Christmas Relief in Bedford (CRIB) appeal, for example, helps it to keep its Prebend Day Centre running during the winter months, offering vulnerable, homeless adults in Bedford hot food, clean clothing, access to medical care and practical support. You can find out more at www.smartcjs.org.uk/crib2018
This is a monthly guest column provided by
Mayor Dave Hodgson and published unedited.