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A Day in the Life of the DENS Day Centre

By Wade Dingle, Day Centre Manager

We have a staff team made up of three full time and one part time staff members, who are supported by two dedicated volunteers.  We are open for drop-in Monday to Thursday between 11:30am to 2pm, during these times the service users have access to: food, hot and cold drinks, showers, laundry, phones and computers.  Between 9am-11am, 2:30pm-4:30pm and Fridays we have an appointment system, where we are able to do one to one key work with service users where needed. 

On a typical day, staff will generally arrive between 8:30am-9am, the first job on the list is to empty the dishwasher and fill the urn.  Then there are several things that follow, checking emails, checking Elms reports, discussing events from the previous day regarding service users and cooking the meal.

We never know how many people we’ll see on a particular day or who will attend on that day, we do however cater for at least 35-40 people every day.  In the morning one of our volunteers normally goes and buys the bread, milk and newspapers for us, as well as post that needs to be redirected.


At 11:30 we open for drop-in and we never know who will attend or what state they will be in; we do however treat everyone the same. Each person who accesses is, visually assessed before entering, they are then signed in on the register, and everything that they do is recorded during the drop-in. This is done so that we can report to our funders on how the service is used. During this time we are kept quite busy, having conversations, assessing needs of service users, answering questions about services, constantly watching service user interactions, serving food and drinks. Throughout the day we process referrals for service users to move in to our Temporary Emergency Accommodation, The Elms.

At the end of the day 2pm, we clean and mop the Day Centre and record all the attendance and use of the centre on our databases. During this time we have an informal staff debrief of the happenings of the day. Before leaving at the end of the day we normally defrost any frozen food in preparation for the next day’s meals.

In addition to all of the usual drop-in running, between 9am-5pm, we take a wide variety of enquiries from the general public about services, donations, volunteering and general information. We also speak to statutory and non-statutory organisations, regarding service users; this is only done if confidentiality waivers have been signed by service users, and is only done for the betterment of the person in question.  We also have knocks on our door from the general public who are either donating items to us, or are seeking information about our services.  In addition to this we are also a Foodbank distribution point which means that we are often handing out food parcels to those in need.
All in all we are kept very busy, we never quite know who we’ll see on any given day, who we’ll speak to or what might happen.  The only thing that’s guaranteed is that, everyone will be treated with respect and that all who enter will be warm and safe while under our roof. 

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