MEDIA RELEASE 15/12/2020
Bedford based charity, SMART CJS, has announced that the SMART Prebend Centre premises will be used in a whole new way. The building, formally a day centre for rough sleepers and people experiencing homelessness will now act as a one-stop shop hub for a range of services, initiatives, and projects. Using Home Office funding secured by the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner and Community Safety Partnership the hub will open in December and run until at least March 2021 as part of the Safer Streets Project.
The intention is that the space will be available for use by voluntary sector, charitable, public sector, and community interest groups, at least on a temporary basis, instead of the centre being empty and unused.
“The SMART Prebend Centre building was closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions and remains unusable as a homeless day centre”, said Anita McCallum, SMART CJS CEO.
“With Government funding and support locally, Bedford Borough Council was able to enact the “everyone in” policy. This meant that from April 2020 homeless and rough sleepers have been supported by SMART, partner organisations, the Council and volunteers in temporary hotel accommodation. Our teams are providing meals, emotional support and help with accessing healthcare, welfare, benefits and housing advice. Having everyone in once place is enabling us to support many more people who are experiencing homelessness to secure suitable accommodation.
“We have permission from the Council for this temporary change of use. And, initially, we intend to run the community centre on a cost-only basis so that it can be used by local organisations tackling issues of prime importance in Bedford.”
SMART CJS will not be running its annual CRIB Appeal this year and will, instead, be asking the community for particular items and/or monetary donations when needed.
Any monies kindly donated to SMART CJS as a one-off or by direct debit, as well as donated goods, will be used to:
- Support the homeless and rough sleepers with food, toiletries and access to health, mental health, housing and welfare & benefits services in the hotel in Bedford;
- Assist those who have made positive change in their lives and need help with making the transition to new, stable accommodation (e.g. food, furniture, clothes etc).
Jen Robus, SMART CJS Area Manager said “Demand for shelter and housing is likely to increase as the effects of Covid bite deeper, with many more unable to pay for accommodation. We remain committed in supporting the vulnerable and will continue to act as a safety net for those that find themselves homeless. We thank everyone for their continued support.”
For more information about Safer Streets visit www.Bedford.gov.uk/saferstreets
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