Twenty overnight beds are now available to rough sleepers in Bedford.
They have been provided by the council in partnership with SMART, who run the Prebend Day Centre and extended outreach services, and are available every night until March 31.
These beds are available by referral only, are managed by street outreach teams, and anyone being supported by the Outreach Services is able to register for a bed each night.
People who are sleeping rough are encouraged to attend the Prebend Day centre to receive support from outreach teams, which enables them to access the winter beds.
If you see someone sleeping rough, you can let the outreach teams know by reporting it through the national rough sleeping report website www.streetlink.org.uk. This will ensure that individuals are contacted by outreach teams each day.
Following a bid by the council to the Government’s Rough Sleeper Initiative fund, Bedford Borough Council has been able to expand its provision for those rough sleeping and has introduced a number of initiatives, including these overnight beds.
Outreach teams have already supported 12 people off the streets and into long-term accommodation.
A number of rough sleepers have also been supported into temporary accommodation including 8 people moved off the streets and into accommodation provided by our partners ‘The Kings Arms Project’, with intense support to find employment and long-term accommodation.
This is in addition to the well-established severe winter provision, run by the Salvation Army and supported by Bedford Borough Council.
This shelter opens when the temperatures are forecast below freezing for three or more consecutive nights. This year the shelter is at the Salvation Army outreach centre in Kennedy Road, off Elstow Road, Bedford, and works in partnership with the 20 bed provision.
Cllr Anthony Forth, Portfolio Holder for Adults Services and Operational Housing, said: “Having these beds open every night over the winter will allow the council and our partners to provide more support to people who are sleeping rough. Our aim is not just to ensure that individuals have shelter for the night, but to support people to find long-term accommodation and employment so can they move onwards and upwards.”