January Update

SMART’s Cold Relief in Bedford 2023-2024 Winter Appeal has been underway for six weeks, now. Our campaign is going well, however, the recent severe dip in temperatures has meant that the Prebend Centre Support Hub is starting to see a significant number of people needing to access the services on offer. We are already seeing 50% more people at the Hub than we did two weeks ago. The appeal is 40% of the way to target but still some way off the £50,000 goal. Sadly, the cost-of-living crisis has meant that even the most generous of people are no longer to donate the amount they’d like to, if at all.

Whilst things are always quite busy at the Support Hub, the bitter weather has meant that more people than ever are turning to the Centre for support. Did you know that in 2023 SMART’s team of dedicated Support Workers carried out 1716 support sessions? This has increased by 94% on last year.  In these sessions a conversation will take place to allow the individual to talk freely about what challenges they are facing and ask for support in making changes to their lives. They make these decisions for themselves, and the team at SMART supports them with their choices. 

We have in place several partnerships with other expert organisations that help people get the support that they need. Partners include the NHS Path to Recovery Team (addiction support services), Mental Health services, PBIC (supporting migrant communities), Kings Arms Project, housing providers such as Bedford Borough Council, Impakt, Amicus, and Housing Associations. Services at The Prebend Support Hub include support sessions, a daily hot meal provision, hot showers, a daytime safe space, clothing, bedding, toiletries and even nurse/GP appointments, a dedicated Prevention Team that helps with Outreach and housing problems before they escalate, helped 69% of the people they supported maintain their current tenancy, when it might well have ended up in someone becoming homeless. In 2023 SMART supported 559 individuals in Bedford. Many of whom accessed multiple services, adding up to 906 individual referrals or requests for support. 876 of these occurred within our First Point service and the support hub on Prebend Street. This demonstrates just how vital the Prebend Support Hub is to the local community.

Our Centre relies heavily on the generosity of the local community when it comes to funding the Hub, and your donations of food, clothing, bedding and toiletries recently has been incredible. Thank you very much if you have already donated to our winter appeal. If you haven’t got round to it yet, or would like to donate a second time, this is the link to follow: SMART!: SMART’S Cold Relief in Bedford Appeal (CRIB) 2023 Winter Appeal (enthuse.com)Thank you very much for your kindness and generosity.  

Jen Robus 

CEO SMART CJS