A message from Anita McCallum, SMART CJS CEO.

I am delighted to report that, thanks to the generosity and kindness of SMART CJS supporters, the SMART Prebend Centre emergency appeal has reached an amazing £26,500.

 More people needing our help due to unemployment

The appeal, launched in March, was created to fund an anticipated shortfall in donations from groups who would usually meet and raise money for the service, before Covid-19 took us all by surprise. As our teams watched events unfold along with the rest of the world, we honestly didn’t know what to expect from the appeal. Lives have been turned upside down due to the pandemic; many have seen their income cut by 20% due to the furlough scheme, some have lost their income entirely, while others, sadly, have become homeless.

Our volunteers and the Bedford community have been truly inspirational

I have been overwhelmed by the support we have received over the past four months; the local response to the virus has been unbelievable. I have seen individual donors giving money, cheques and making online donations, local groups holding online meetings and charitable trusts freeing up emergency funds to help small charities like SMART CJS survive. But it’s not all about money; the reaction we’ve had from locals offering to help with their time and donations of other goods has been phenomenal! From donations of clothing, food, and toiletries, to the many selfless and brave Bedford heroes joining our team as volunteers!

The appeal has been another extraordinary example of the Bedford community uniting to help those in need, and I am amazed and humbled by your efforts to keep people safe! This has been a remarkable time for us all, but once again the community has pulled together.

Donations are keeping homeless services running 24/7

Your donations have helped to set up and keep operational the temporary hotel-based homeless service in Bedford, which is managed by SMART CJS. Money has funded Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our frontline staff and volunteers and has made possible the purchase of laptops so our teams can record and access vital information.

Most importantly, funds from the appeal have helped us to keep safe Bedford’s homeless in secure accommodation during the pandemic. This has helped to protect the vulnerable people accessing the hotel, the NHS and the wider community. To date, SMART CJS has supported more than 60 individuals per month and has seen numerous positive outcomes for service users, with many being helped into suitable accommodation.

We are seeing an increased number of people accessing our drug & alcohol and homeless services as a result of COVID-19 and we believe this trend will continue. Whatever comes next, SMART CJS remains committed to preventing further homelessness and supporting those already homeless to take the steps they need to create a better life.

You can view some of the incredible trusts (many wish to remain anonymous), businesses, groups and churches who have donated time and money to the appeal here. I hope we have captured everyone, but please accept my sincere apologies if we have missed you out.

Heartfelt thanks for your ongoing support,

Anita McCallum

Chief Executive Officer- SMART CJS


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