Supporters of Dacorum homelessness charity DENS turned out in large numbers to experience what it’s like to sleep rough during the bitter winter weather.
Fundraisers from the borough’s churches, businesses and youth groups took part in the 21st annual sleep-out at nearby St Albans Abbey with the aim of highlighting the issue of homelessness.
The chilly challenge raked in more than £8,000 for DENS – which runs a day centre, night shelter and foodbank in Hemel Hempstead.
One participant said: “The crisp night we had was better than rain and the Abbey looked lovely in the moonlight. It was a frosty wake-up and I had frost on my hat.
“It was a good night but I was glad it when it was over – my husband picked me up to go home to bed, but homeless people have to do it night after night.
“This is always an event with a lot of youngsters and it’s a good education for them to experience the cold and hard ground and how scary it feels to be so exposed.”
Another that took part in the event – which saw temperatures drop to a biting -2 degrees celsius – was the Rev Austin Janes of Grovehill’s Church of the Resurrection.
He said: “It was so cold at the sleep-out to raise money for DENS.
“There was ice even on the inside of my survival bag! I got 4 hours shut-eye – I wouldn’t go as far as calling it sleep. – and stamped around from 5am.
“Luckily we had the option of hot soup or hot chocolate, tea or coffee, but people die out there.
“Thankfully, none of the 470 sleepers last night suffered that much.”
Hemel Hempstead Community Church Youth Group’s Philip Young added: “Thanks to everyone who supported us – we got through a chilly night without too much bother.
“Fortunately it’s just one night for us. We know that this money will be put to really good use supporting local homeless people.”
Anyone wishing to donate can do so at www.justgiving.com/dens