Day centre closure fears allayed as Dacorum homelessness charity DENS lands £300k bid

DENS chief executive Andrew Liversidge with day centre staff Wade Dingle and Phil Brown. PNL-140318-121313001
DENS chief executive Andrew Liversidge with day centre staff Wade Dingle and Phil Brown. PNL-140318-121313001

A day centre which helps Dacorum’s homeless get back on their feet can continue its work for years to come after fears it would be forced to close its doors this month.

The DENS facility in Hemel Hempstead’s Queensway was threatened with a D-day of March 31 if sources could not be sought to fill a £179,000 funding gap created by the lapse of grants the charity had come to depend on.

Now, the charity has discovered its most recent Big Lottery application has been successful, allowing the service to provide hot meals, cleaning and IT facilities and all-important support to homeless people in the borough for the next three years.

From April 1 a £54,000 pot from Herts County Council and a further £25,000 from Lloyds TSB were due to run out, and with the expiration of the charity’s previous Big Lottery grant, it was believed there would not be sufficient cash to keep the centre at Bury Lodge open.

The facility, which costs £120,000 a year to run, saw an influx of donations from anonymous benefactors and local companies to sustain it until it heard from the Big Lottery, which confirmed yesterday it would be awarding DENS £299,822 to be split over three years.

Day centre manager Wade Dingle said: “This is amazing news as the last few months have been particularly difficult and unsettling for both the staff and day centre users.

“With the grant received we will continue to offer support to those who use the day centre, being more proactive in aiding service users to change their lives for the better.”

DENS chief executive Andrew Liversidge said: “This is brilliant news and goes half way to meeting the DENS funding gap. It gives us the space we need to generate alternative funding and sustain the work for years to come. In these difficult times, with so many people struggling to survive, this is excellent news.”

Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning also congratulated the charity on its funding success. He said: “This is great news and I am delighted for the staff, volunteers and day centre users at DENS. DENS provides excellent support and advice for local homeless people and it is a huge relief that these services will continue uninterrupted.

“I congratulate the hardworking team who put the bid together, it is not easy to secure funding for charitable projects and they have done a tremendous job.”

The charity is always in need of support and is looking at other ways to tackle the remaining funding gap, including grants, donations and fundraising activities. If you can help, email or call 01442 262274.