‘If this place wasn’t here I’d be in prison’ - how one centre in Bedford helps people in need

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‘This place helps me not to use drugs and to stay away from people who have a negative impact and influence on my life’, says a woman who gives her first name as Claire.

“It’s safe,” she explains with evident relief.

A man in his early 20s called Charlie adds: “If this place wasn’t here I would be in prison.

“I would be comitting petty crime and I’m sure there are people in the same position as me here.

“This place helps me a lot. I would be dealing drugs or I might even be dead - this place is my lifeline.”

Ryan Flecknell, chief executive officer of the Prebend Day Care Centre in Bedford said: “Quite simply we change people’s lives by stabilising them and helping them on the next step to independence.

“In the summer we deal with about 60 people a day but in the winter when the weather isn’t so nice we get up to 75. On average we help 232 different individuals a week and we saw over 800 people last month.

“People have a place to come where they can receive non-judgemental help and advice and someone to care for them.

“Their needs vary from homelessness to coming here themselves. Many have mental health issues. No one comes here because they want to.

“They come because they have hit rock bottom or have had a trigger in their lives that has made them seek help.

“Through our 65 volunteers and support services we offer a holistic approach in assisting indivduals to take the next step towards re-integration into the local community.

“We provide wrap-around services which provide necessary amenities and facilities to remain dignified whilst we work with them to assess their individual needs, whether it be a hot shower and a hot meal, medical advice, help with securing accommodation, or even a better paid job.

“I don’t think people in Bedford are really aware of the work we do and the impact we have.

“If we weren’t here the people we help would be far more visible in the town and we would see far more problems - our work stops that crisis from occuring.”

The centre relies on its dedicated team of 65 hard working volunteers. Support worker Abel Lyttle says: “It takes a lot for a man to ask for a pair of socks.

“But when you can help with that it helps you think your own problems aren’t that bad. What we do is absolutely necessary.”

As Clare says: ”You need to tell people if it wasn’t for this place I would be in big trouble - because I’d have no support.”

To donate or volunteer visit www.prebendcentre.org.uk