Communities come together to support SMART!
We were thrilled to host open day events at Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub (Milton Keynes) and the SMART Prebend Centre (Bedford), in January.
SMART teams welcomed over 100 visitors across two days, providing an opportunity for residents, local businesses and partner agencies to take a tour, talk to staff and find out how SMART CJS is working to prevent homelessness and relieve rough sleeping in Bedford and Milton Keynes.
At the SMART Prebend Centre:
Guests included Mohammed Yassin MP and Bedford Councillors Bywater and Foley. HM Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis, opened the newly fitted and fully accessible medical room, which will be used for medical consultations and care for Bedford’s homeless and rough sleepers. Team members also welcomed many of the local businesses based in and around Prebend Street including Samsons Fitness and staff from the YMCA.
Visitors were able to view recently renovated parts of the project, which required emergency repairs and refurbishment. When complete the unplanned repairs will cost more than £90,000. Additional works being completed over the coming months include removal of skylights to prevent leaks in the building, new storage areas to help with donations of food and clothing, new doors and windows to help with energy efficiency at the centre and much needed refurbishments to bathrooms.
At Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub in Milton Keynes:
Cllr Jenni Ferrans visited and spent time talking to staff and found out how the service fits into the overall picture in Milton Keynes. Mayor Cllr Sam Crook couldn’t attend on the day, so popped along for a sneak preview before the event. The team were delighted to welcome guests from as far afield as Luton including Noah and Signposts, and the Kings Arms Project in Bedford. Local partners such as The Campbell Centre, MK University Hospital and Bletchley resident’s association all came along too. The variety of partners, and local business was amazing.
The Hub opened in October 2019 and includes beds and ‘sit-up’ sleeping spaces, kitchen, communal areas and dedicated workers helping homeless people to gain sustainable accommodation. It serves two functions; to relieve rough sleeping and to prevent those at immediate risk of rough sleeping from ever having to spend a night on the streets.
Lisa Harrison, SMART Area Manager said about the events:
“Both open days were extremely successful; I’d like to send my personal thanks to all who attended. It was really encouraging to see our professional partners, local businesses and residents come together and discuss how best to support our service users. The two days had some added bonuses for us, in Milton Keynes for example, we had 10 visitors sign up to become volunteers and in Bedford many of the guests generously donated to the CRIB Appeal, which still needs an additional £12,000 to hit target. These open days were about bringing the community into our services and not working in isolation. I’m delighted that we have been able to do that”.
SMART Prebend Centre
Is open 365 days of the year supporting those who sleep rough, are vulnerably housed and socially isolated. The centre is a place of safety; providing food, warmth, water, showers and a place to rest. Further, it provides an opportunity to assess peoples’ needs and engage them in longer term support to move beyond homelessness. The service is entirely reliant on donations and the support of the community and costs over £250,000 a year to stay open. The project encountered unplanned building repairs towards the end of 2019, totaling more than £90,000, and we urgently need your help to fund the continuing renovations.
Somewhere Safe to Stay, Milton Keynes
Is open 24 hours a day, offering emergency homelessness advice and somewhere safe for people who are sleeping rough or are about to be discharged from hospital or prison and are working with the team towards gaining suitable accommodation.