Christmas appeal launches to help homeless people in Bedford

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An appeal to help give Bedford’s homeless people a happy Christmas and stable new year has been launched by SMART Prebend Centre.

The centre will be supporting 70 homeless or vulnerably housed people throughout December, helping them build skills, gain independence and move forward to a brighter future in 2019.

“For most people the festive period is a time to relax and enjoy being with our families, but for the homeless, rough sleepers and those who are vulnerably housed, this is often the toughest time of year,” said a spokesman.

Last year the annual Christmas Relief In Bedford (CRIB) appeal raised more than £35,000 for Prebend, This year the team is aiming to raise £50,000.

The money will support the centre’s running costs and allow the team to deliver dedicated services. It will also help provide Christmas meals, food, clothing for those most in need throughout the winter months.

The SMART Prebend Centre is open 365 days of the year. Over the past 12 months it has served more than 15,000 meals, provided over 3,000 pieces of clothing and bedding, and those using the service have taken 2,000 hot showers.

Supporting people to meet their basic needs is a starting point, but the team also works with professional partners and charities in Bedford to help homeless and vulnerable people learn skills and find housing, allowing them to reintegrate into society.

All visitors will receive a freshly cooked meal on Christmas Day, refreshments and food parcels to take away.

SMART’s chief executive, Anita McCallum said: “The SMART Prebend Centre is financed entirely from fundraising activities. The backing we receive from the local community in Bedford is incredible and also essential in keeping the centre going.”

As little as £5 can provide breakfast for 13 homeless people and will make a real difference to the centre. Donations can be made online, taken to the centre or sent by post.