By Lucy Bywater
Bedford is not an uncharitable town, despite not being amongst the UK’s wealthiest. What is noticeable though is the growing number of people sleeping rough in our town. Christmas sees a surge in charitable giving, but now that the colder weather is making a proper appearance, homeless people need Bedford’s support more than ever. And sadly of course those living on the streets are particularly vulnerable to violence or abuse. Recent studies show that brain activity does not always register a homeless person in a sleeping bag in the same way as it does other human beings. (You may have seen the shocking local news about arson attacks on rough sleepers and their belongings). It’s hard to know what to do when you see someone crouched shivering in a doorway and according to homelessness charities, handing them cash direct may not always be the best way to help them. (Though a hot drink or food is always a good idea). One simple thing worth doing if you’re worried about a particular person is to inform Streetlink.org.uk (0300 500 0914) which can help rough sleepers directly. It only takes a minute to let them know.
The good news too is that are several excellent local organisations and charities to which you can donate your time, cash, food or particular items to support:
Dine With Us on the Streets – Cherrie’s Legacy (see Facebook) feed on average 40 homeless/hard up people, using donated food, every Saturday evening opposite St Peter’s Church on De Parys Avenue.
The Bedford Langar Project, inspired by the Sikh concept of Free Communal Kitchen, serve up Punjabi curry the first Sunday evening of every month for anyone in need, in Pigeon Square. streetskitchen.co.uk
Prebend Day Centre provide all round support, 365 mornings a year. www.prebendcentre.org.uk (Volunteers,18+, currently needed weekend mornings).
Kings Arms Project does outreach work and runs a night shelter in Bedford for up to 18 people a night. www.kingsarmsproject.org
NOAH enterprise is Luton-based but does outreach work with homeless in Bedford. Noahenterprise.org
And starting this month… Soupervan, a joint project between local designer and upcycler extraordinaire, Max McMurdo (see reestore.com for beautiful stuff) and school chef Luke, who together have converted an old family caravan into a portable soup kitchen to operate on Thursday evenings in conjunction with homeless charity Emmaus. See Soupervan.uk
photo credits Alex J Westley firstname.lastname@example.org