Duchess of Gloucester visits homeless shelter

HRH Duchess of Gloucester
HRH Duchess of Gloucester

The Duchess of Gloucester will be touring Hemel Hempstead’s new homeless shelter on a visit to the town today.

Her Royal Highness will meet and hear the stories of residents, staff and volunteers while seeing first hand the services at the new facility which was built by Dacorum Borough Council and managed by DENS.

As well as the 41-bedroom emergency temporary accommodation, the Elms includes a training kitchen, a Job Club, and budgeting and other life skills services.

Her Royal Highness, wife of Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, will see the results of the ‘Sprouting Out’ project run by Groundwork Hertfordshire to create a new allotment at The Elms.

The allotment has enabled residents to learn to grow their own produce as well as using it to cook healthy meals.

During her 45-minute visit, Her Royal Highness will finish planting a tree in the patio area and also unveil a commemorative plaque of her visit.

She will be welcomed by Countess of Verulam, Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, the new Mayor and Mayoress of the Borough of Dacorum, Cllr Gbola and Mrs Carol Adeleke, Jonathan Trower, High Sheriff of Hertfordshire and Mike Penning MP along with other civic guests.

Dacorum Borough Council’s strategic housing group manager, Julia Hedger and DENS chief executive, Andrew Liversidge and chairman of trustees, Anthony Culley will also be present.

Margaret Griffiths, portfolio holder for housing at Dacorum Borough Council, said: “I am so proud to see The Elms up and running, providing some of the most vulnerable people in our community with a safe place to sleep and help get their lives back on track.

“This facility is a tremendous asset in our work to tackle homelessness, to give local people a chance for a decent future in the borough.

“Under DENS’ expert management The Elms promises to make a huge difference to so many people’s lives.”

Andrew Liversidge, DENS chief executive, said: “We are delighted to be working in such close partnership with Dacorum Borough Council and many other expert agencies at The Elms.

“Due to the on-going difficult economic environment, demand upon our services is sadly greater than ever and over the first few months we have been at near full occupancy.

“Every person who comes to stay is given individual help with a tailored approach relevant to their needs and we are currently able to assist over 80 per cent of residents to a positive move-on to longer term accommodation.

“It is an honour to show Her Royal Highness our work here.”

The Elms was completed and first opened in May and the modern development includes residential space, an IT suite, a library and a communal garden.

Dacorum Borough Council invested £3.35 million on the emergency temporary accommodation which was developed through the Government’s Places of Change programme, with £850,000 central government funding.

For more information about services DENS provides, visit www.DENS.org.uk or email office@DENS.org.uk