Bedford Borough Council update on its work with the homelessness in the area
Today (10 October) is World Homeless Day. During the pandemic Bedford Borough Council has worked with homelessness organisations, including SMART CJS and the Kings Arms Project, to ensure that no one has had to sleep rough.
There has been government funding for hotel accommodation and the Council is now working with the Government to continue to accommodate those at risk from rough sleeping. And to help to prevent them from returning to the street in the longer-term.
The Council said it has been able to accommodate almost 200 people who either had been rough sleeping or were homeless and not entitled to statutory accommodation over the last six months.
Along with the accommodation, additional support has been delivered by the Council, homelessness organisations, ELFT Pathways to Recovery and Mental Health Service and others, to help most of the individuals move into more permanent accommodation and to help resolve the underlying issues that so often contribute to a person becoming street homeless.
Borough Mayor Dave Hodgson said:
“Last year, on World Homeless Day, I visited the ‘Somewhere Safe To Stay Hub’. Since then because of Coronavirus pandemic, with support from the Government and collaborative working in Bedford Borough we have been accommodate and work to deliver a more secure future for so many people.
“We must ensure that going forward no one has to return to sleeping on the streets here. People sleeping rough are the most obvious and visible signs of homelessness, but we shouldn’t forget that every year the Council also supports hundreds of people, including families, who become homeless or are at risk of losing their home.
“We do this by providing them with emergency accommodation and help to find a settled home.
“In recent weeks there has been an increase in begging in Bedford Town Centre, and this is often perceived as being due homelessness. However, there is now no need to anyone in the Borough to be without somewhere to stay, and no one needs to beg because they are homeless.
“The police and the Council’s Community Safety team are aware of this and take action when they can, particularly where there is anti-social behaviour.
“I would urge anyone who wants to help people who are homeless to donate to one of the homelessness organisations in the Borough.”