“Thank you, Bedford” SMART Prebend Homeless Centre reopens

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Bedford’s SMART Prebend Homeless Centre had reopened this week, thanks to the generous support of Bedfordians across the borough but they still need our help.

The centre on Prebend Street provides food, clothing, showers, warmth, safety and support to rough sleepers and the homeless.

There will be a phased reopening of the centre, initially offering a lunchtime opening (12:00pm – 2pm), providing takeaway food to people in emergency accommodation, experiencing homelessness (with limited access to food) and rough sleepers.

SMART CJS CEO Anita McCallum said that the reopening has been made possible thanks to the Cold Relief In Bedford (CRIB) appeal, launched in December.

“We wondered if the stresses of the pandemic (financial, psychological and otherwise) would affect people’s generosity – but our community has come together once again,” she said.

“I am delighted to announce that thanks to the kindness of Bedfordians, an incredible £25,000 has been raised. That gets us halfway towards the £50,000 appeal target and has helped the centre to reach the first milestone of reopening.”

The CRIB appeal will continue to run until 28 February, A donation of just £10 could provide a hot lunch for five people.

It’s hoped with continued support, the centre will have increased staff on-site, so they can open for longer toward the end of February.

If you’d like to make a donation, you can do so at smartcjs.org.uk/crib.

While the centre has been on the front line of homelessness relief in Bedford for many years, the centre had to close in March 2020 following the outbreak of COVID-19.

However, SMART CJS staff and services continued supporting those in need alongside Bedford Borough Council and community partners.

“Before Covid-19 hit the centre was open 7 days a week, providing food, clothing, showers, warmth, safety and support to some of Bedford’s most vulnerable residents,” added Jen Robus, SMART CJS Area Manager.

“Rising energy bills, loss of employment and the general uncertainty faced by many, means there is an ongoing demand for our service. We want to be back open every day, offering a safe space and practical help to people that are homeless or facing homelessness.

“We’ve always had incredible support from the community, and I’d like to offer my heartfelt thanks to every individual, group and business that has helped us get halfway toward our fundraising target. We still need to raise an additional £25,000.

“If you can donate, no matter how small, we will be one step closer to getting the centre doors back open so we can offer a place of safety for our neighbours needing compassion and a helping hand,” she said.

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