Sleep Out to Help Out as the Cost of Living Bites

MEDIA RELEASE – 24th August 2022

Bedford-based charity, SMART CJS, is warning that numbers seeking meals and support from the SMART Prebend Centre is rising sharply. People who are in supported accommodation, social housing and private rented dwellings are already finding it difficult to make ends meet and are increasingly needing food or other advice and help. These are individuals on low incomes or benefits and not necessarily rough sleeping yet. The charity desperately needs to raise more funds now to help via direct donations or a virtual September Sleepout event which is open to all. 

Anita McCallum, CEO of SMART CJS explains: “In April,100 people came to see us at the Prebend Centre for meals and other help like clothing or housing advice, particularly those in private rented accommodation and some already sofa surfing. By the end of July the figure was a staggering, 251. If this trend continues, we could be looking at 500 people per month by the end of the year. We only have a certain amount of money and food gained through donations and grant applications as we are not funded by any statutory bodies; I am worried that we won’t be able to meet demand as temperatures drop in the Autumn and fuel costs rise exponentially.”

The SMART Prebend Centre is managed by Nikki Little (pictured below left with Prebend Caseworker, Jason Richards) who adds: “We have been serving on average 155 meals per week Mon- Fri during the lunchtime period in July. Whilst at the centre, we can help people with their accommodation needs and advice about housing. For example, they may need help in dealing with eviction notices, warnings about their tenancy and may be at a loss to know what to do if they have nowhere else to go. We are working closely with partners from the Foodbank, Bedford Borough Council’s Housing service, Citizen’s Advice, Job Centre Plus and PBIC to provide more intensive support and help stop people becoming homeless.”

The SMART Prebend Centre is needed more than ever in this perfect storm of world politics and health issues. A pandemic, war in Ukraine, rising fuel & food costs have led to the current food inflation rate of 10.1%. Put simply, people can’t afford to pay for all of life’s essentials and something has to give – in this case, food and/or rent money. The Prebend Centre is providing that safety net, but it urgently needs funds to do so. Next month on 24th September it is running a fundraising virtual Sleepout where people can experience what it might be like to lose their home and sleep rough – but in the relative comfort of their own back garden. If you would like to participate or donate money – please click here:

More information about the Sleepout

Where will the Sleepout be held?

Your back garden, living room, church hall, guide/scout hut/camp. Anywhere you can share the experience with others.

Why should you register?

Many of us know and understand what it’s like to be experiencing financial hardship with the rising cost of living and rocketing fuel process. And for some of us in the community, this will mean making a choice between “heating or eating”. The SMART Prebend Centre expects that alongside the hundreds of meals now prepared every month for those who are vulnerably housed and facing real hardship, these numbers will grow significantly.

What will you be fundraising for?

We would like to fully open the SMART Prebend Centre to help to support those who need our help – this means that we need your participation – virtually!

What will it cost you to register?

Registration to do a virtual sleepout: £7.50 per person.

Receive a 20% discount if you buy 2 or more tickets at once. Receive a 35% discount if you buy 5 or more tickets at once.

What if I can’t attend, can I still get involved? 

Don’t fret, you’ll still be able to get involved – you can even hold the Sleepout on a different date in September if it suits you, friends, family or a school/church/scout/guide group better. Families or couples or friends can get together and camp in the garden, or even in a tent on the kitchen floor (if it’s too wet!).

We will have social media post feeds to mark different points in the sleepout. And we want you to post your pictures! We want you to feel part of a wider community doing some good for those who need our help and compassion. You can always just sponsor someone else!

Register to do a virtual sleepout!

Do I need a tent? 

It’s up to you whether you camp in the back garden or just find a sheltered spot. You can choose how you want to do your sleep out.

Join Us – Register Now

This could happen to any of us It’s a challenging time for many of us at the moment. Let’s support the local community by providing them with a place to go if they are homeless or facing homelessness. The Prebend Centre is a safe place to get some food and comfort, with support services to help with drink or drug overuse, mental health issues and access to our partners who can advise on housing and debt management.

Registration to do a Sleepout at home:

£7.50 per person.

Register here – it takes 5 mins and you can get fundraising straight away!

Fundraising expectation:

You will find sponsorship from friends, family and your wider network for a minimum of £100 (don’t worry if you can’t raise this much but please try and make this amount your goal). This means that the investment made in staging the event will provide a significant return for the charity and the work it needs to do over the Autumn and Winter months to keep people safe, fed and watered and supported through the SMART Prebend Centre.

The target for funds needed:

If we have 500 people registered that sleep out on 24th September, and each committing to raise £100, that means a staggering £50,000 could be raised – enough to keep the SMART Prebend Centre running for 3 months.

Already signed up?

Have you downloaded your Sleep Out guide? If not, do it now! It will help you to get the most out of your fundraising experience.