What did Mr Downes and Mr Cuffini get up to after school had finished today? Rather than see perishable school food go to waste over the holiday, they took it to The Elms, where it was gratefully received.
Happy Local Charities Day! To celebrate we have staff from local business Emery Little volunteering in the garden, Foodbank & office!
Big thank you to the staff at Britvic for their kind donations yesterday! We can't believe people's generosity this year.
Shout out to everyone that took part in our Reverse Advent Calendar this year, we have been indundated with donations! These are some of the presents ready to be distributed to our service users to brighten their Christmas.
HUGE well done to the 90 brave souls that took part in the DENS Sponsored Sleep Out on Friday night! Thank you so much to everyone that participated, donated and to Quanta for sponsoring the fab silent disco. So far we have raised an incredible £13,600!!
Thank you to staff from Quanta for collecting all these items for the Foodbank in addition to holding their fancy dress & pumpkin carving competitions for DENS!
Quanta invited us to their pumpkin costume judging competition. Top effort from their staff! Quanta are also kindly sponsoring the Silent Disco at this year's annual DENS Sponsored Sleep Out.
The Arts & Crafts sessions have been really popular with our service users and some interesting creations have been made! Thank you so much to everyone who's donated items and material, it has been so useful!
'Barking Heads' came to visit our four legged friends at The Elms and so kindly donated lots of dog food!
Some of the staff at Britvic volunteered for DENS again - this time at some of our Move On properties. The gardens got a wonderful much needed makeover which really benefits its residents - thank you!
Despite the torrential rain, DENS Saturday managed to raise £450! Thank you to all the volunteers and supporters who came out and braved the weather.
The Thomas Coram CE School so generously donated over 400 items to send to DENS this Harvest. Thank you!
Open Space is now in full swing with more and more people attending. These were some of the service users enjoying snacks and playing cards. Open Space is a great place to socialise, develop skills and talk through any questions, every Tuesday and Thursday at The Hub.
Young people from NCS did some amazing work collecting at Sainsburys at Apsley Mills for DENS!
On Saturday 29th September, Aitchisons Estate Agents hosted an afternoon of tea, cake and live music at Leverstock Green Cricket Club. The event, which was the third of its kind put on by Aitchisons & the cricket club, raised over £600 for local homeless charity DENS through ticket sales and a highly popular raffle. Food was also donated to the Elms night shelter, enabling service users to have an afternoon tea of their own on the day.
We were at Berkhamsted High Street selling vintage clothes and accessories. Thanks for everyone who came along!
Foodbank Manager Wade Dingle was interviewed on BBC Three Counties Radio, talking about inceased demand on Foodbanks over the school holidays. Click here to listen.
DENS residents made the most of the sunshine with a wonderful BBQ at The Elms, with food kindly donated by Ocado.
Thank you SME Herts Business Awards for choosing DENS as their chosen charity for the evening and raising £500 in the raffle. Thanks also to Ocado for donating the prize.
BIG thank you to Alistair from the Hair For Men Academy for kindly volunteering and cutting the hair of some of our residents at The Elms!
Huge thank you to those who attended our Thanksgiving service to celebrate 15 years of DENS - we raised an amazing £650!
Big shout out to the 4th Boxmoor Brownies for donating these very useful items to The Elms. We really appreciate it.
Young people on the NCS Wave 1 are writing letters to put inside care packages for homeless people in Dacorum for their #SocialAction
Massive shout out to the Year 8 students at Adeyfield School for holding a vintage sale to raise money for DENS this afternoon!
Massive thanks to BURP and Fishery Wharf Cafe Boxmoor for putting on the Boxmoor Ukelele Festival on Saturday - over £500 raised for DENS!????
Thank you to the wonderful staff from Henkel who spent another day volunteering, building a sensory garden and scarecrow at The Elms. You did a fantastic job!
On Saturday 12th May a group of 108 determined walkers set out from Berkhamsted School on the 9th DENS Sponsored Walk. The route took them along the banks of the Grand Union Canal before turning off to Aldbury and then returning to Berkhamsted via the Ashridge Estate, a distance of just over 15km to celebrate DENS’ 15th Anniversary.
The day started in sunshine but unfortunately the forecast rain arrived early and tested the will of the walkers. However, the route still gave people the opportunity to spot herons beside the canal, red kites over Aldbury and bluebells in Ashridge.
The oldest participant was a very fit 84 years young - but the youngest walker was just 4 years old. Both of these walked the full distance, though with a little help from Dad for one of them.
At the finish everyone was able to warm up with a hot drink courtesy of Rapid Response Team, who gave the drinks and their time to help out.
Staff from Hightown HA came over to The Elms to help in the garden!
Check out our footage of the Hillbuster - can you spot yourself?
Thanks to Mel Brown Studios for the video and Emily Faye for donating the music.
We're delighted to announce Mad Squirrel Brewery will be at the finish line for the Hemel Hillbuster!
A massive THANK YOU to Aubrey Park Hotel for donating Easter eggs to our residents!
Thanks to JFK students for taking part in the Dragons' Apprentice Challenge and raising an amazing £1351.81 for DENS!
CEO Wendy Lewington was on BBC Three Counties Radio, chatting to Mike Naylor about the extra provision DENS provides during periods of severe weather, as well as taking a look at the day's headlines.
You can listen to it here:
In these very cold and snowy weather conditions, I know a number of our supporters are concerned about people who are homeless and particularly those who are sleeping rough. I want to re-assure you at DENS we are doing all we can to ensure no-one is sleeping out in this terrible weather. Working with Dacorum Borough Council, during cold weather The Elms instigates SWEP ( Severe Weather Emergency Protocol), meaning we have a number of additional emergency beds available. We literally turn the meeting rooms at the Elms into a larger crash-pad, putting mattresses and bedding down. The beds are available to anyone who otherwise would have nowhere to stay. The only criteria is the person isn’t so intoxicated they are a risk to themselves or others. If this is the case, we would contact emergency services.
The person will receive a hot evening meal, somewhere warm and safe to stay, warm clothes and breakfast. Our workers will also do all they can to find suitable short term accommodation for the person; whether this be at The Elms if rooms available, with another provider or with the local authority where the person has a local connection. We do this, by working closely with local authorities and other agencies.
Ove the past week we have had between 4-6 people accessing our SWEP provision each night, this is additional to the 44 people who are currently staying at The Elms. SWEP will continue until at least Monday. Our staff, along with Dacorum Borough Council staff are out each day, making contact with anyone that may be a rough sleeper advising them of the service. We are also working closely with other agencies to promote this widely.
If you do know anyone that may benefit from this service or are concerned about someone who you think is sleeping rough please do contact The Elms on 01442 800131. Please do only use this number if you are concerned about an individual, not for general enquiries. As you can imagine the staff at The Elms are very busy at present.
For more general enquiries, including volunteering, donations for the Foodbank or Warehouse please email our general email address firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office on 01442 262274
Thank you all for your continuing support.
Another great turnout for this year's Spring Quiz, which raised £1689.
In 10 weeks’ time, our CEO Wendy will be running the Virgin Money London Marathon for DENS. The money raised will help maintain these much needed services in Dacorum. Here's your chance to support DENS, as well as Wendy, whilst having a bit of fun.
As Wendy heads into her last full month of marathon training, the mileage will increase significantly. And what better way to 'egg' her on than guess the amount of creme eggs she'll burn off after her long runs!
Can you guess the number of creme eggs Wendy will burn off in March??
A few facts to help you out:
- Wendy will average 4 runs a week
- Each week Wendy will complete one long run (between 16-20 miles)
- Wendy will not actually be eating the creme eggs whilst running!
How to donate:
Good luck!!! The winner and runners up will be announced on 2nd April 2018.
During freezing weather we make 8 additional bed spaces available for anyone who needs them - call 01442 800131 with any referrals.
Find out more about SWEP here.
Thank you to Berkhamsted Chiropractors for giving up their fees for a day - raising £1,269!
A massive thank you to Menspire Hair who came and gave free haircuts to our residents on Xmas Day
After jumping out of a plane last year, DENS CEO Wendy Lewington is ready for her next challenge - the London Marathon on April 22nd 2018. You can keep up to date with her training and sponsor her here.
Official figures released by DENS show that on Friday 1st December there were at least 78 people sleeping rough in Dacorum. The good news is that the 78 people counted were taking part in the sponsored Sleep Out in the grounds of Hemel Hempstead School, organised by DENS.
The participants ranged in age from 10 to 75 and so far have raised £9,000. DENS Chief Executive, Wendy Lewington, said "This is the first Sleep Out we have organised independently and it was fantastic to see it so well supported. Many of the participants came from local church youth groups and schools as well as our corporate supporters. They were enthusiastic to see what it was like to be a rough sleeper, though most of them were also very happy to know they had homes and beds to go to on Saturday morning. We are really grateful to the support shown by all of the participants. The money they have raised is critical to our ability to maintain and develop the services we offer to homeless and disadvantaged people in our community."
We raised a fantastic £839 at the Berkhamsted Light Festival. A big thank you to Richard Hinchliffe and friends for running the event. Next up - Kings Langley on 2nd December!
A massive thank you to the Henkel UK team who spent their afternoon weighing, dating and packaging food parcels at the Foodbank!
The Right Hon. Sir Mike Penning MP took time out to see first-hand the importance of adult community learning with HAFLS and its range of local partners.
The garden at The Elms has had a new makeover thanks to our latest project with Groundworks, working with Elms residents.
Thank you to the amazing Ocado volunteers for giving us at The Hub a garden SOS makeover!
On Friday 20th October DENS was thrilled to have The Rt Hon Sir Mike Penning and Deputy Mayor Cllr Rosie Sutton cut the ribbon to officially launch the DENS Open Space at the Hub, Hemel Hempstead.
'We are absolutely delighted to be able to open this service; where people can come to access advice, support and training to help them take the next positive steps on their journey towards a stable and secure place to live. The advice and courses available will not only ensure people can access appropriate services, but also increase their confidence and general well-being. The Open Space will be a drop-in and offer basic refreshments, company, Peer to Peer mentoring, advice and practical skills. Being situated next to our Foodbank and Furniture Warehouse it is the perfect location for more volunteering opportunities for our clients'
- Wendy Lewington, DENS CEO
Thanks to everyone who came along for DENS Saturday - helping us to raise £1115.
11 brave DENS supporters took part in a tandem skydive at Hinton Airfield, Oxfordshire, to raise money for DENS. The jumpers included DENS CEO Wendy Lewington and staff from local businesses Osborne, KPMG and Hiller Hopkins.
Want to take part in your own FREE tandem skydive for DENS? Find out more.
DENS CEO Wendy Lewington was interviewed by Roberto Perrone on BBC Three Counties Radio about the National Audit Office's report on the link between welfare reforms and the rise in homelessness. You can listen to it here:
DENS were chosen as the beneficiary of the raffle and auction at the 2017 SME Hertfordshire Business Awards at Warner Brothers Studios, Leavesden. CEO Wendy Lewington was invited to talk about the issue of homelessness in the area and the work of DENS.
We had a great time helping out at Berkhamsted's third annual Food Festival, with Food tastings, demos, a marketplace, children’s entertainment and live music raising money for DENS and The Hospice of St Francis.
The Residents at the Elms had a fabulous day on the canal on Friday, and what a glorious day for it! Thank you to those who made it so special.
Well done Paul Harrowell who ran 75 miles for DENS in The Buff Joust 24 hour endurance event, raising over £850 and counting!
Thank you to Year 7 and Year 8 from Adeyfield School for their amazing food collection delivered to the Foodbank today!
DENS are thrilled to announce that we have been awarded a grant of £287,302, from the Big Lottery Fund, which will allow us to continue and develop the DENS Day Centre.
Wendy Lewington, DENS CEO, said:
"We are delighted to have been awarded this grant from the Big Lottery. The Day Centre currently provides a gateway for those in need to the full range of DENS services, and to the support available from other agencies. This grant will enable us to ensure that we will give those people in housing need not only the immediate short term support they require but also the greatest opportunity to find a long term solution to the problems they are facing."
Thank you Meowing Heads for supporting one of our tenants with their cat pet deposit.
Residents have been enjoying the new outdoor cinema in The Elms garden.
We raised more than £3000 from the 8th DENS Sponsored Walk on Saturday 13th May. Despite a limited amount of sunshine over 70 walkers strolled, or in some cases strode, through the 10 mile stretch of countryside around Berkhamsted, Aldbury and Ashridge. The walk catered for both young and old with a majority of the walkers taking part for the first time.
Thanks to our amazing sponsors KPMG for providing our lovely new kite flags - look out for them at our event HQ in Gadebridge Park and at our two food stations at Wiggington and Ballinger.
Thanks to our wonderful sponsors at Ocado and Science in Sport for the fantastic donation of gels for our event.
We are looking forward to welcoming The Flying Physios so if you need a really effective treatment at the end of our challenging course then you will be in the best possible hands.
We had a great night at the annual DENS Spring Quiz at JFK School, raising £1738.24.
DENS CEO Wendy Lewington was interviewed on BBC Three Counties Radio, talking about the recent rise in rough sleeping in the UK.
Elms residents spent the afternoon at Wendover Woods, walking dogs from the Chilterns Rescure Society.
Thank you to all our amazing volunteers who put together 65 fantastic food hampers for families in need in our local area and delivered them on Christmas Eve. Thank you to everyone who donated food and to Ocado for the wonderful fresh food too.
DENS service users were featured on Radio Verulam, sharing their stories of how they came to The Elms and how they have been supported by DENS. Listen online here.
A team of Robotics engineers from Ocado visited the Elms on a team building day. Their challenge was to turn the mound into landscaped beds.
DENS is providing the materials, donated by Colin Chambers at DBC and the contractors at the Water Gardens project.
Also helping were Chris Bloomfield, Charlotte Smith and John Felan.
At the St Albans Abbey Sleepout on Friday 2 December, DENS supporters were out in force - 57 people slept out for DENS and so far they have raised over £9000 with sponsorship still coming in. Big thanks to all the local businesses, church groups and individuals who took part.
Harris+Hoole at Tesco Jarman Park in Hemel have a fab new Giving Tree where you can leave a Christmas gift and message for one of our service users.
As our current phase of funding is due to end soon, we urgently need to ask for your help this winter to continue and develop the great work of the Day Centre.
DENS held a Halloween event at The Elms, with a residents' pumkin carving competitiob judged by Mike Penning MP.
We are delighted to announce an exciting new gardening project for DENS thanks to a grant received from the Big Lottery Fund's Awards for All scheme.
At The Elms, our 41 bed temporary emergency accommodation, a team of residents and volunteers will work to create a lovely new BBQ area with decking, outdoor lighting and two new BBQs. Residents will benefit from a fantastic outdoor cinema – with projector, seating and 20 sets of headphones.
In addition, the team will landscape the large mound by the patio which was left after the building works and plant shrubs, small trees and flowers and incorporate a water feature with a gentle and peaceful waterfall. The works are due to be completed by late Spring 2017
We were at the Riverside shopping centre in Hemel Hempstead for DENS Saturday, our annual event to raise funds and awareness.
We had a great time at our Latin Dance Night on Satuday, many thanks to everyone who came along, our volunteers who helped out, Salsa Tropicana for putting on the lessons and music free of charge, and Ocado for providing the food.
The Foodbank celebrated its 5th birthday on the 16th September. Since its formation, the Foodbank has issued 6964 food parcels to a total of 15,050 people - 9268 adults and 5782 children.
We had a lovely time at Leverstock Green Cricket Club for our Afternoon Tea on 10th September - a very popular event which sold out weeks in advance and raised £750 for homeless and vulnerable people in Dacorum. Huge thanks to Aitchisons Hemel Hempstead for organising the event, and Gentle Jazz for providing the music.
Adeyfield School held another clothing sale in aid of DENS - this year with an 80s / Back to the Future theme.
Congratulations to the team of six DENS runners who took part in the London British 10K on Sunday 10th July 2016. So far they've raised over £2,600 in sponsorship and rising - you can still show your support by sponsoring one of our runners:
We were delighted to pay a visit to the Rotary Club of Hemel Hempstead at their Frugal Dinner to talk about the work of DENS and how we're benefiting from their ongoing support.
DENS were officially awarded the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service at a special summer party on Wednesday 22nd June. As well as a celebration for the DENS volunteers whose work has been recognised by the award, the event was an opportunity to say thank you and farewell to DENS Chief Executive Andrew Liversidge, who is moving on from the charity after 12 years of service, and to welcome newly appointed Chief Executive Wendy Lewington who will take up the role in September.
Over 140 people were in attendance, comprised of DENS volunteers and staff, key DENS supporters, and civic guests including Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire Richard Beazley, Mayor of Dacorum Robert McLean, Member of Parliament for Hemel Hempstead Mike Penning, Leader of Dacorum Borough Council Andrew Williams and Vice Chairman of Hertfordshire County Council Roger Beeching.
Chairman of DENS Malcolm Lindo welcomed the guests and handed over to Andrew Liversidge, who enthusiastically congratulated DENS volunteers and thanked them for their hard work in supporting Dacorum's homeless and vulnerable people. Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire Richard Beazley, acting as the Queen's representative, then spoke warmly about DENS services and handed the stunning crystal Queen's Award Trophy and certificate signed by the Queen to long-standing DENS Volunteer Coordinator Sandra Williams, who stepped down from the role earlier this year. Mayor of Dacorum Robert McClean congratulated DENS in his speech, encouraging its volunteers to continue their good work. DENS Trustee Martin Warner thanked Andrew Liversidge for his achievements in transforming the charity and presented him with a card and leaving gift. Malcolm Lindo then introduced future DENS Chief Executive Wendy Lewington, and rounded off the evening with a reminder that the need for provision for homeless people in Dacorum is greater than ever, and the work done by DENS volunteers is vital in continuing to provide this support.
Thank you to Alastair and Rebecca from the Marketing team at Britvic for volunteering to clean our walls at The Elms.
To represent DENS as recipients of the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, staff member and ex-volunteer Carol Wolstencroft and her husband Ian attended the Patron's Lunch at The Mall on the Queen's 90th Birthday.
Two residents at The Elms have been making fantastic progress on the allottment gardening project.
We are delighted to announce that DENS has been selected by Buckingham Palace to be awarded with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the voluntary equivalent of an MBE and the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK. The work which DENS does for the community was ‘very much admired’ by the independent Assessment Committee, who look for evidence of outstanding standards of volunteering, goodwill and respect as well as determination to overcome any obstacles. DENS was finally chosen from hundreds of nominations across the country.
Thank you to everyone who came to Sue Walker's Curry Night in Chipperfield, raising £530 for DENS.
We were pleased to have members of the Berkhamsted Quakers come on a tour of our services.
A massive thank you to all the cyclists, partners and volunteers who helped make Hemel Hempstead's first every cycling sportive such a fantastic event.
View our roundup of the day here.
Barking Heads donated supplies of dog food for our canine residents at The Elms - Hank and his owner were very grateful!
CitySprint donated these lovely Easter eggs for the Day Centre
Thank you to staff from KPMG who came in for a day to volunteer at the Foodbank.
Four volunteers attended The Chairman's Reception at County Hall, hosted by Councillor Frances Button to honour DENS being shortlisted within Hertfordshire for The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. DENS will hear whether we have been granted the award in June.
Thanks to our amazing sponsors Ocado for supplying us with food for our cyclists at the Hemel Hillbuster.
We had a great time at Northgate Public Services at their Spring Raffle in aid of DENS.
NPS have had DENS as their charity of the year for the past 18 months and have also supported us through a clothing collection and having a team of staff take part in our Sponsored Sleepout.
It was another fantastic turnout at our annual Spring Quiz night, with DENS supporters raising £1650 through ticket sales, raffle and heads & tails. Congratulations to the winning team; The Kings Langley Light Opera Company, and thank you to JFK School for use of their hall and Barkers, Queens Square, for the great fish and chips.
Congratuations to Ray Blake who, after taking up running and training for this event, ran the Watford Half Marathon in 2 hours 26 minutes for DENS. You can still sponsor Ray on his JustGiving page.
Thank you to the Berkhamsted Lions who organised the Santa's Sleigh collections before Christmas and recently handed DENS our cheque for £480.
The 6th North Watford Scouts visited the Foodbank to help date and sort donations.
The students from Tring School 6th Form who decorated the tree at The Elms were busy over the Christmas period, raising funds with cake sales and a collection tin. With this they bought essential items for DENS service users and made a cash donation of £118.
The 1st Apsley and 7th Hemel Hempstead Scouts braved the freezing temperatures to sleep out and raise money for DENS at their Winter Camp.
Many thanks to everyone who donated Christmas gifts for Elms residents - Eckoh, Christmas Help for the Homeless, HBB Bikers, and many more.
For those who are homeless, often separated from
their families, or those in financial crisis, Christmas
can be an extremely difficult time of the year. The
DENS team make it our mission to ensure that our
service users’ problems are put to one side for the
day and the festive spirit is shared amongst all.
Thank you to everyone who donated Christmas Food
items to us in response to our Christmas High Needs
list. Every donation is much appreciated and put to
Christmas Tree at The Elms
Many thanks to Richard McBarnett of Lumina
Technologies for kindly sponsoring our magnificent
9 foot tree at The Elms. The tree was fabulously
decorated by residents with help from pupils from
Tring School Sixth Form as part of their Active
This year will be our first Christmas at The Elms and
plans are in place to make it a special day for
residents. Residents will receive some small gifts
such as chocolate, gloves and toiletries. Thank you
to our supporters and volunteers for the donations
of presents. A traditional Christmas dinner with all
the trimmings will be served by Sweetness Catering.
Some Christmas TV, bingo, a quiz and party games
are planned as well as a table tennis tournament. The
local fire brigade have promised to pay us a visit to
help out and join in the fun.
90 DENS supporters were out at the 22nd annual St
Albans Abbey Sleepout on Friday 4th December.
This brilliant event gives participants the chance
to experience rough sleeping first hand and highlights
the issue of homelessness during the winter
months. Sponsorship funds are raised for 11 local
Thank you to sleepers from: Dacorum Borough
Council, Osborne, Pet Foods UK, Northgate Solutions,
Data Network Solutions, Bourne Leisure,
Police Cadets, St George’s Chaulden, Adeyfield Free
Church, Youth Cafe from Tring Team Parish, the HIYA
Youth Group, 6th formers from JFK School as well
as many individual members of DENS staff, trustees
Thank you to families and friends for sponsoring
the DENS team, so far a fantastic £10,000 has been
raised. It’s not too late to contribute, visit
www.justgiving.com/DENS to donate.
Irene Soares held another successful Curry Night, which along with a raffle and more fundraising at Bourne Leisure, raised a total of £1332 for DENS.
DENS supporters attended a tour of Tring Brewery, raising £600 for DENS.
There was a fantastic turnout out our first Latin dance night at Apsley Community Centre, raising over £700 for DENS. Many thanks to Salsa Tropicana for putting on the classes, and Ocado for sponsoring the event with donations of fresh food.
We were delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester to officially open The Elms. The Duchess was taken on a tour of the building where she had an opportunity to meet with staff, residents and volunteers, and see the training kitchen and the Groundworks "Sprouting Out" project in action. Read more.