The SMART Prebend Centre opened its doors to many important guests last weekend, 24th September. It was organised as a thank you for those who support the Centre on a regular basis and was also an opportunity for those unfamiliar with its work to have a look around. We welcomed the Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, – a long-standing supporter of the Prebend Centre – as well as some of its regular monthly donors, church group representatives, someone from a housing association and councillors.
Pictured L-R: Lou Ritchie, Head of Operations, SMART CJS; James Whitcomb, Head of Business Development, SMART CJS; Mayor of Bedford, Dave Hodgson & Anita McCallum, CEO, SMART CJS
Currently, the day Centre is only able to operate Monday – Fridays due to funding, so it was a surprise for the staff when some new and existing users of the Centre presented at the door unexpectedly on a day it is not usually accessible. They needed food, a hot drink, showers and new clean warm clothing, access to healthcare and some urgent housing advice. The new visitor to the Centre had recently been released from the criminal justice system, and was in urgent need of food, clothing and toiletries as his benefits were delayed, as well as someone we knew well who we had not seen for a while. They needed help with a shower, clothing and a nurse appointment as well as an urgent home visit.
The CEO of SMART, Anita McCallum, remarked: “Thank goodness we were open last Saturday and able to provide immediate assistance to some of our visitors. It just shows that there is the huge need for the SMART Prebend Centre to open at weekends as well – if only we had the funds! If you want to support the Centre then you can do so by making a donation or volunteering. There is still time to donate on our Sponsored Sleepout page, please !
Mayor Dave Hodgson said “SMART provides crucial support for some of our most vulnerable residents and I would like to thank the staff and volunteers for all they do. I would also encourage any resident of the Borough that can donate to the Sponsored Sleepout to do so.”