In the 1990s, two charities were formed to provide services for homeless people in the Dacorum area. Dacorum Rent Aid (DRA) provided funds to those who did not have the means to place a deposit on private rented poverty. Meanwhile, Dacorum Emergency Night Shelter (DENS) was a temporary night shelter rotating between churches during the cold winter months. However, they joined forces some years later to tackle the effects of homelessness together - offering support beyond what you might expect from an average shelter.
In 2003, a permanent Night Shelter was established. Protection and professional support could be found under one roof and the facility allowed DENS to establish the cause of a person’s homelessness. Providing a small number of beds and an additional few in their ‘Move On’ scheme, DENS has since been working alongside Dacorum Borough Council and local Housing Association to provide even more accommodation. This means we can expand on the number of people we take into our care.
Furthermore, DENS has been fortunate to have the aid of the local community; receiving donations of food primarily from local churches and schools. DENS also accepts monetary, clothing and household item donations. These are used to provide basic needs for someone moving into a new home.
In 2010, DENS discovered that the needs of the local community meant they had to expand their food storage / supply, to help those who were in danger of becoming homeless. DENS Dacorum Foodbank was established, In partnership with the Trussell Trust. This facility provides a short-term supply of emergency food to people referred from other support agencies in Dacorum.
In 2011, DRA and DENS merged. This provided a comprehensive service which could see individuals finding their way from rough sleeping on to a continuously supported pathway. This was achieved through the Night Shelter and supported accommodation. It meant many could progress on to independent living with the support of the Day Centre available throughout this period.
In 2013, DENS established a programme named ‘Equipped to Change’. This scheme aimed to give those who are re-establishing themselves within the community the opportunity to find gainful employment - and with much success.
In 2015, DENS took over the management of The Elms in partnership with Dacorum Borough Council. The Elms is a purpose-built temporary accommodation unit for single homeless people. The previous Night Shelter in Apsley was converted to additional move-on accommodation.
In 2016, DENS was awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Services.
In 2017, DENS Open Space launched. This space of offers personal development and training, friendly advice and a place to meet.
Photo credit: David Satchel, Hemel Gazette