On Friday 26 November, 100 people braved the freezing temperatures spending the night on cardboard in the grounds of The Hemel Hempstead School for the long-awaited return of DENS’ Sponsored Sleepout.
Friends, families, colleagues and community groups from across Dacorum gathered at the event, swapping their cosy bed for a sleeping bag in support of the charity.
In addition to the live Sleepout, there was also an action-packed virtual broadcast enabling children and families to take part in their own home by sleeping anywhere other than their bed. A total of 73 participants joined in, including a strong turn out from local Scout groups.
So far, the event has raised an incredible £50,000 to help rebuild the lives of local people facing homelessness, poverty and social exclusion.
The night started in energetic fashion with a silent disco, before participants, wrapped up in thick layers, took on a frosty winter night under the stars with their sleeping bags and a cardboard box, courtesy of local removal company, JamVans. Hot drinks provided by DENS Social Enterprise, the Coffee Project, helped to keep participants warm.
Despite battling the unforgiving elements of the night, spirits remained high at daybreak as participants celebrated their collective achievement and enjoyed a much-deserved bacon roll kindly provided by the Rapid Relief Team from Watford.
Game of Thrones star and ambassador for DENS, Joe Dempsie, took part in the event for the second time. He said: ‘I am always blown away by the passion of DENS’ supporters and the fantastic atmosphere they generate at events. The Sleepout is an important opportunity to make a difference helping those who are most vulnerable, while also gaining a small insight into the harsh reality rough sleepers have to face on a nightly basis.’
Dacorum Borough Councilor, Margaret Griffiths, who took part, said: ‘This year’s Sleepout was, as always, a true reflection of the powerful community spirit on show throughout Dacorum, with people from all walks of life coming together to raise vital funds for such a worthy cause.’
The event was kindly sponsored by Kings Langley-based semiconductor company, Imagination Technologies, who had staff taking part at Hemel School, plus a team in Romania watching the virtual broadcast.
Wendy Lewington, DENS CEO said: ‘A huge thank you to everyone who took part in the Sleepout, and all our partners who were key in making the event happen. This night rounds off an incredible 2021 for DENS, where we returned to live fundraising events – a vital source of income as we continue to support local vulnerable people in taking the next positive steps in their lives.’
Donations can still be made towards the event by visiting www.justgiving.com/campaign/dens-sleepout-2021.