When a recession bites it's really going to hit a homelessness charity hard. This was true of Vanarama's local charity DENS, which provides temporary accommodation and help in resettlement to independent living for single homeless people across Dacorum. So, when we heard about the charity's desperate need for a vehicle to help them with their work, staff here at Vanarama were only too happy to help. Now, a year since we donated the Citroen Relay Luton to DENS, we're proud to report that it is being put to sterling use in helping to reduce homelessness and aiding disadvantaged people in the area.
As well as helping to move DENS' clients from the night shelter to temporary accommodation quickly and easily, the van is regularly used by volunteers in the DENS Retail Warehouse and Charity Shop in Hemel Hempstead, collecting and delivering bulky furniture sold in the shop.
Harvesting Foodbank Donations
Most of us have heard about the Foodbank scheme, where individuals and organisations donate food to a central point and volunteers then distribute it to people in need.
Over the past year the van has been put to good use collecting large donations from schools and churches at Harvest time for the Foodbank. It has also been used to deliver food parcels to its distribution centres across Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted, Tring and Kings Langley. Just recently, the van collected over 6 tonnes of food donated by the public as part of a National Scheme with Tesco supermarkets from its stores in Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring.
And just before Christmas last year a van was needed to go to Berkhamsted Prep School which had held a fundraiser resulting in a large food collection of 30 boxes for DENS!
Every year on Christmas Eve a donation of fresh food is handed out in hampers to those in need in the area. The new van helped enormously on the day collecting the fresh food donations from Ocado, helping to brighten up Christmas for many disadvantaged people across the area.
We want to help, do you?
*2414 people slept rough in England on any one night last year representing an increase of 37% on 2010. Despite all the hard work which charities like DENS do in preventing homelessness it's clear that the problem isn't going to be resolved overnight so we're delighted to continue helping in our own small way.
DENS is obviously a charity close to our heart. If you are interested in finding out more or donating your own time or money to assist them please visit http://www.dens.org.uk/getinvolved/
*Figures from the Department for Community and Local Government 2013