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Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

DENS have been honoured with the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK

DENS were officially awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service at a special summer party on Wednesday 22 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 post 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.

The award was created by The Queen in 2002 to mark the occasion of her Golden Jubilee, recognising excellence in voluntary activities carried out by groups in the community. The winners are announced each year on 2 June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. The QAVS is the MBE for volunteer groups. 

The work which DENS does for the community was ‘very much admired’ by the independent Assessment Committee, chaired by Sir Martyn Lewis CBE 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.

"To be in receipt of the QAVS is a tremendous achievement for DENS and our volunteers should feel immensely proud of the recognition which this Award represents. I wish to say a very sincere thank you to all our past, present and future volunteers" - Andrew Liversidge, Chief Executive


Andrew and his wife Margaret represented DENS at a garden party at Buckingham Palace on 19 May which was attended by the Queen and other winners of this year’s award.

Each year over 200 volunteers work for DENS, which is the equivalent of 12 members of full time staff. DENS was originally founded by the community response to the problem of homelessness when volunteers from local churches came together to create hot meals and gather bedding on church floors. That same community spirit still burns fiercely today. Find out more by watching our volunteering film on YouTube.

"Every single person that gives up their own personal time for DENS is a truly unique and fabulous person. Each one of them has a welcoming smile and not one ever judges. I truly believe that DENS saved my life. I walked into DENS, ready to die, I cried, full of despair, I was listened to, I was helped, I began to smile, then laughed. Now I feel alive, because of DENS, their support workers and volunteers. My image of DENS is that of a hand reaching down to pull another up from the depths of despair to the path of a new life" - Andy Ricketts, Former Service User


DENS is one of the 193 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award in 2016. A full listing is published here.

A signed certificate from Her Majesty The Queen and an English Crystal with the logo insignia will be presented to DENS by the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, The Countess of Verulam later in the summer.

Former volunteer and long serving staff member, Carol Wolstencroft will represent DENS when she attends a special Patron’s lunch at The Mall in celebration of the award on 12 June.

"As an organisation we are delighted and honoured to receive the prestigous QAVS. My hope is that it inspires many more people from the local community to come forward to help us in tackling the growing problems of homelessness and poverty within our area. There are so many varied ways in which people can get involved" -  Malcolm Lindo, Chair of Trustees 


A wide range of volunteering opportunities exists at DENS. At The Elms, our temporary emergency accommodation, we need friendly volunteers to socialise with our volunteers in the evenings. At The Day Centre we need people to help with lunchtime duties and to spend time chatting to our daytime service users. At the Foodbank, we need packers, those who can help with stock control and with food distribution. At our furniture warehouse, we need people to meet and greet customers, to help clean and restore furniture or to support our team of DENS van drivers.

The DENS resettlement team require support in preparing accommodation and offering visits when new occupants are settling in. Our busy marketing team needs help with a variety of evening and daytime events. We also have opportunities for those with administration and office skills.

Email volunteering@dens.org.uk to find out more about how to help this worthwhile cause in your local community.

"It's all about the positive vibe that people can get from being involved in an environment where they have the opportunity to help to influence other people's lives in some small way" - Chris Bloomfield, DENS Volunteer


"It makes me feel I'm doing something worthwhile, I get the chance to interact with other people of all ages, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of doing this job" - Robert Thomas, DENS Volunteer


"When I first started volunteering at the Night Shelter I discovered very quickly that many of the people that came in there were very fragile and vulnerable, and their self worth and self belief was at such a low point. Through volunteering you can support them to rebuild their lives and make them feel that they're part of society and worth something" - Ann Cahill, DENS Volunteer
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