Homelessness is on the rise and in autumn last year, Bedford was in England’s top 10 highest local authority areas for rough sleeping.
For most people the festive period is a time to enjoy being with families, but for the homeless, rough sleepers and those who are vulnerably housed, this is often the toughest time of year.
The SMART Prebend Centre’s annual appeal has been launched to raise funds to support the homeless and vulnerably housed in Bedford. With generous support and donations from the community, the Christmas Relief In Bedford (CRIB) appeal raised over £48,000 in 2016. This year, the Prebend team are aiming to raise a total of £50,000 for the centre.
The SMART Prebend Centre is open 365 days of the year. Donations support the centre running costs and allow the team to deliver dedicated services to help homeless and vulnerably housed people to build skills, gain independence and move forward. Funds raised will also provide Christmas meals, gifts, food, clothing, companionship and support to those who are most vulnerable throughout the winter months.
Over the past 12 months the centre has served 19,655 meals, provided 9,658 pieces of clothing and bedding, and guests have had 2,992 hot showers. Supporting people to meet their basic needs is a starting point, but the team also work with professional partners and charities in Bedford to help homeless and vulnerable people learn essential skills and find housing, allowing them to reintegrate into society.
This year the centre will be providing hospitality with a festive touch for around 70+ vulnerable people every day in December. All visitors will receive a freshly cooked two-course meal on Christmas day, refreshments, Christmas gifts and food parcels to take away.
SMART’s CEO, Cath Hoskins said: “The SMART Prebend Centre is all about helping those who are most vulnerable in society. The support we receive from the local community in Bedford is fantastic and essential in keeping the centre going. Donations are important and gratefully received, but we are also looking for volunteers to help at the centre so please do get in touch.”
As little as £5 can provide breakfast for 15 homeless people and will make a real difference to the centre. Donations can be made online, taken to the centre or sent by post.
The SMART Prebend Centre is located at 12 Prebend Street, Bedford, MK40 1QW. Call 01234 365955.
To find out about The SMART Prebend Centre, to make donations and to volunteer visit www.smartcjs.org.uk/contact-us/smart-prebend-centre