Bedford night shelter for rough sleepers will stay open for longer as cold weather bites

“They know they're going to get a warm, safe bed for the night.”
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A charity-run overnight shelter for rough sleepers in Bedford has said it will stay open until March as demand for its services increases.

The King’s Arms Project, on Harpur Street, opens its doors each night giving up to 20 people a hot meal and somewhere to sleep as temperatures continue to plummet. Now, as the Met Office predicts temperatures could reach minus three this week, it has pledged to extend its services.

Kirstie Cook, chief executive of the charity said: “We were entirely reliant on volunteers stepping forward to help and on financial support coming from different donors. Because we didn't know quite how much help we'd get we thought we would commit to doing this until the end of February because we feel like that's within our grasp.

Inside of the rough sleeping hub. Picture: Kirstie CookInside of the rough sleeping hub. Picture: Kirstie Cook
Inside of the rough sleeping hub. Picture: Kirstie Cook

“But as it is, we've got such a fabulous bank of volunteers and people have been so generous with their donations that we have the resources to continue for as long as we're able to keep going to keep people warm and safe and dry.”

The project will run its overnight hub until March 21, thanks to the hard work of the volunteers. And Kirstie is keen for more people to get involved. She said: “We are definitely open to having people who would like to volunteer. They can get in touch with us via our website.”

Homeless people going to the hub can expect a hot meal, a safe bed for the night, access to help and advice, and breakfast before they leave in the morning.

Kirstie explained: “We haven't run an emergency provision like this before and this building's not set up for that. But given the need, and we just kind of felt as if we can, we can change it up to make it work for the winter months.”

The generosity of people in Bedford has been making “a real difference”, as Kirstie puts it. She added: “It’s really demonstrated to me just what a kind and generous place Bedford is, and I don't think anybody living in the town would want to think of their neighbour or family or friend having to sleep out and bear these winter conditions because there wasn't somewhere available for them.”

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