Get support

SMART First Point supports people in Bedford who are homeless, rough sleeping or who are worried they will soon become homeless. 

We help people ‘on the street’ who are rough sleeping, helping them to move into accommodation as quickly as possible, to enable support and improve safety. Our Housing Advisors support people who are worried they might lose their accommodation, or who are at risk of becoming homeless, aiming to prevent this from happening wherever possible.

SMART Prebend Support Hub

For many years, the SMART Prebend Support Hub has been a ‘go to’ place for people experiencing homelessness or needing advice about housing. 

The team provide support and food, alongside access to essential amenities such as laundry facilities and showers. 

What to do if you are homeless or rough sleeping

Seek Assistance from the Local Government

Local councils, also known as “local authorities,” bear the responsibility of providing aid to individuals undergoing homelessness.

If you find yourself without a home, sleeping on the streets, or confronted with a housing crisis, your foremost step should involve reaching out to your local authority’s Housing Options team. This will enable you to ascertain the extent of assistance they can provide to you.

Depending on your specific situation, this may encompass:

  1. Emergency lodging – a spot in a shelter or hostel.
  2. More enduring accommodation – self-sufficient living or social housing. Whenever feasible, it’s advisable to approach the council associated with your local connection, typically in the region where you most recently resided.

To identify your local council, you can make use of the Government’s website.

Use Streetlink

If you find yourself currently sleeping rough, take advantage of StreetLink. This nationwide hotline for referring rough sleepers enables you to communicate with SMART’s outreach teams, local authorities, and various other homeless organizations regarding your circumstances and your location while sleeping rough. They will subsequently facilitate your connection to local support services to provide assistance.

StreetLink’s volunteers and personnel are committed to assisting you as promptly as possible – however, it’s crucial not to postpone seeking aid. In the interim, if feasible, consider seeking help from alternative sources. For instance, you might want to get in touch with your local council or pay us a visit at the Prebend Hub. 

FAQ's

Homelessness is a very broad term, and used to describe a range of issues not only for people that have no home, but also for people in homes that are unsuitable or inadequate for their needs. This would include (but not limited to): people sofa surfing, staying with friends or family, living in a car, unaffordable accommodation, accommodation that is too small for their needs (i.e. not enough bedrooms), accommodation in poor state of repair or upkeep, temporary accommodation, emergency accommodation or short term bed/room solutions, accommodation not adapted to someone’s disability, and rough sleeping.

Rough sleeping is one of the most visible form of homelessness. It includes sleeping or resting in places that are not intended for sleeping and without shelter. In our experience, people rough sleeping will often try to find a more secluded area to rest, such as within woodland or bushy areas, in enclosed spaces, semi-indoor or covered areas to protect from the elements and to avoid being disturbed, but may also include more visible spaces such as parks, shop doorways etc. Rough sleeping also includes people that are living in their vehicle.

Streetlink is the National website for anyone to report rough sleeping, either for themselves, someone they know, or perhaps someone they’ve seen. All local authorities in the country are connected with streetlink, so rough sleeping can be reported anywhere. Often, each area will have a dedicated team to support people rough sleeping, this might be provided by a team within the local authority, or another organisation the authority has asked to provide the service. In Bedford, the Council asked us to provide this service, and we are proud to have done so for the last 7 years

When a report is logged on Streetlink, an email is automatically sent to our central inbox, outreachteambedford@smartcjs.org.uk and we have a log in to Streetlink to get full details. From there, we can see all the information someone has logged, so the more info provided, the better! We ask people to include a ‘what 3 words’ location, or coordinates, so we can pinpoint the area someone is, a description if possible (of the person, the area or any items that can be seen) and any other details there might be. The more information we have, the quicker the team can get to the person to support them. Sometimes people move location, so we’re not able to find then, but we try 3 times to find someone each time a streetlink report is logged.

If you are found by one of our team rough sleeping, please be reassured we are there to help. Rough sleeping is often a traumatic experience, with little to no sleep or rest, and we understand that can really take it’s toll. We try and be as calm as possible, and never confront people. We’ll approach gently and with understanding, and will not enter into anyone’s tent, covering or personal space. We’ll always wear badges so you know who we are, and we’ll always introduce ourselves. We’ll often offer a hot drink and ask you how you are and if you are well (to check on your wellbeing), but we’re led by you and understand that not everyone feels able to or wants to talk. We might ask your name, and if you are happy to talk to us then we might ask you a bit about what’s happened. We’ll also let you know places you can go and what times, and will often suggest heading to our Support Centre on Prebend Street in Bedford – there you can have a shower, something to eat, get fresh clothes, warmth and company. We’ll also try to help by talking to you about any support you might need, this can be really broad, but again, we’re led by you and what you feel is important. We’ll also talk to you about the next steps and options. We’ll do all we can to keep the amount of time rough sleeping as short as possible.  

Every person is able to approach any local authority in England and ask for help due to homelessness, or if you are soon to be homeless. If you are due to be homeless within the next 8 weeks (56 days), or are already homeless, then speak to someone at your local authority. Part of this help is to assess your situation and needs, and to develop a plan with the aim of improving your situation. These are statutory homeless assessments and are usually carried out by someone in a housing specialist team within the council. Local Authorities have a legal duty to provide help and assistance to people that are homeless, or soon to be homeless.

Alongside this, if you work with SMART, we will also ask for some information so that understand the situation and can identify how we can best help. We’ll do this at a pace that’s comfortable, as sharing personal and sometimes upsetting information can be difficult. We won’t judge. We’ll do our best to support with the things that feel the most important to the person we’re talking to, and alongside this will work to consider accommodation options.

If you are worried you might lose your home, but have not yet been issued an eviction notice, please speak to our First Point Homelessness Prevention Team. The team will support you along the way while assessing your situation, working out financial details with you (including helping to apply for Universal credit and other welfare benefits), liaising with the landlord, signposting to financial advice support services, negotiating repayment plans and more, but will also support with other areas that might be impacting on your situation, i.e. mental health and wellbeing.

If you’ve been given an eviction notice already and are due to be homeless within 8 weeks (56 days), it’d be best to approach the Council for a statutory homeless assessment as they have a duty to assess your situation and needs, and will be able to provide advice on what to do next.

SMART’s night beds are designed to be a short-term solution for someone who has been rough sleeping, to have a bed in an indoors, safe environment. The beds offered are a dormitory style, so lots of people are all in the same room, each with their own bed.  If you are offered a bed space, one of the team will call to let you know, or if you do not have a phone, will make every effort to locate you. You can arrive at the night beds between 8.30pm and 10pm, until 8am the following morning. There is space to bring personal belongings, that can be stored in a locker overnight. We ask that no one brings any dangerous items with them to the beds, and there is no use of substances on site. We understand that some people may need to access substances, but we ask that you do so away from the beds, and do not attend at any stage intoxicated.

While you are staying in the night beds, you will be offered support during the day by one of the caseworkers. The caseworker will work with you to identify what they can help with, and between you both, create a plan. Alongside this, we also have on-site housing officers who can do a statutory homeless assessment, to make sure you are receiving all the entitled support that you can. They also help to look at places that are available for accommodation, and will aim to match you with the most suitable place, or help you to move onto the housing register – whatever is the most suitable option.

SMART staff are on site overnight in the night beds, and available to chat at any time if you feel you would just like to talk to someone, or have worries or concerns you would like to talk through.

Rogers Court contains 20 self-contained flats within the building. SMART staff are available 24/7, and will offer support while you live there, and consider what options there are to move on from Rogers Court, when the time is right. When you move in to Rogers Court, you’ll be given a fob for your room, a welcome pack explaining about facilities in the building and what will happen while you live with us, a licence agreement for you to sign, support to set up utilities (these are your responsibility), how to report repairs etc. We’ll take our time explaining this, as we know moving can be a stressful time, and it can take some time to adjust when settling in somewhere new.

You’ll meet the team that work there over the first week of your stay, and everyone is able to answer any queries you might have.

The Prebend Support Centre is open Monday – Friday to support people that are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. We offer a warm, welcoming space that encourages social connection with others, while offering essential services to support people’s wellbeing, including showers, fresh clothing, laundry services, a warm meal and support from the staff team.

The staff team offer support in a wide range of areas, including (but not limited to) budgeting, applying for benefits, looking at accommodation applications, referrals and access to specialist services, wellbeing support, connecting with the community, support to access education, training and employment and other areas of support that might be identified.

Yes, you can, our drop in space is open between 10am-2pm Monday – Friday. We welcome anyone needing support to the centre, but we ask that you give us some details before coming in and accessing the services so that we can ensure everyone’s safety.

Citizens Advice

Independent advice covering a range of topics including, debt, benefits and more.

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Places in Bedford to access affordable food and free meals.

Job Centre Plus

Help to claim benefits and support to find a job.

PBIC

Help for EU Migrants to find settled status / pre settled status. General advice and careers advice.

Drug And Alcohol Support

Free, confidential advice and support with drug and/or alcohol use.

Mental Health

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Family And Relationships

Local and national support to help people with family & relationship issues. 

Legal Advice

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Contact Us Now!

If you have any questions or comments, or if you would like to learn more about our programs and services, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.