Ninety brave DENS supporters swapped their beds for sleeping bags and slept outside at Hemel Hempstead School on Friday, raising £13,600 for the local homeless charity’s services.
People arrived armed with cardboard, survival bags and sleeping bags and were greeted with coffee from the new DENS social enterprise project, The Elms Coffee Co.
DENS volunteer Peter Williams gave a welcoming talk, thanking the fundraising sleepers for their support and for helping to highlight the issues local people face with homelessness, and Hearts Services First Aid gave tips on avoiding hyperthermia.
Scouts, Police Cadets and a church, school and youth groups were among the participants in the sleepout, along with Dacorum Borough Councillor Margaret Griffiths and local businesses Emery Little and Silver Fox UK.
DENS fundraising intern Molly McMunn, who also took part, said: “The Silent Disco, sponsored by our good friends at Quanta in Berkhamsted, was a big hit. It wasn’t long before we were all up dancing the macarena and tiring ourselves out for the long night ahead. The generous Mothers’ Union fuelled us with hearty soup, cereal bars and hot drinks and, once fed and watered, we made our way to our selected spots outside the school to settle down for the night.
“The wind was fierce but luckily it wasn’t too cold, and it only rained briefly around 3am. It was made easier knowing we had a warm, dry bed to return to – a luxury many rough sleepers don’t have.
“I began to stir around 6.30am, with the smell of bacon cooked by volunteers from the Rapid Relief team. Even though I only managed a few hours’ sleep, it was worth it to know that the experience, and my fundraising, has made a huge difference to DENS, and the service we provide.”