A Sunday service of thanksgiving celebrated the 10th birthday of home-grown Dacorum charity DENS – but the congregation at Boxmoor’s St John’s Church were left with no illusions that the good cause has massive challenges on the horizon.
Deputy mayor of Dacorum Councillor Penny Hearn joined supporters for the service, where the main speaker was Lt Colonel Anthony Cotterill of the Salvation Army, who was among those who helped kickstart the charity during his time in Hemel Hempstead and is still the organisation’s honorary president
Also among the speakers was chairman Anthony Culley, who said: “People often think of DENS as an organisation but it’s the people drawn from the local community that make DENS what it is.
“It’s brilliant, there are 160 volunteers and only 21 paid staff who make the whole thing run”.
Chief executive Andrew Liversidge said: “The charity has grown amazingly. Ten years ago as a temporary night shelter we were helping 56 people a year, now DENS is helping 550 individuals a year and a further 3200 through the Dacorum Foodbank.
“Right now the situation is very hard for hundreds of people who are poor and marginalised, they are struggling with benefits cuts, whether sanctions, shared accommodation, bedroom tax or closure of crisis loans – and all this is before Universal Credit comes into force in October.
“We need to work to help people cope because right now homelessness is rising steeply”.
DENS services include the emergency night shelter, move-on accommodation, rent aid, a day centre, and the Foodbank. Find out more at www.DENS.org.uk or call 01442 262274.