‘Tide of homelessness hits poorest hardest’

A Dacorum charity has called for more government support as benefit cuts continue to drive up the number of homeless people.

Homelessness has increased by six per cent in the east of England, while the number of people now living in temporary accommodation in the region has doubled over the last year.

Andrew Liversidge, chief executive of DENS in Hemel Hempstead.

Andrew Liversidge, chief executive of DENS in Hemel Hempstead.

The rise is shown in new figures released by national homelessness charity Crisis. The report reveals there are more than 5,500 homeless in the east.

Dacorum’s homelessness support group and night shelter DENS has also seen a rise in the number of people using its services.

Chief executive Andrew Liversidge said: “The latest figures from Crisis show there is a significant increase in homelessness. This is ongoing – full stop. It is the poorest who are being hit hardest by the benefit cuts.”

He revealed that 652 people passed through DENS in the last year, an increase of 25 per cent. The Dacorum Foodbank also saw 2,514 people collecting food parcels. Of these, 973 were children.

DENS fundraising cabaret evening, Tring, April 2013

DENS fundraising cabaret evening, Tring, April 2013

Mr Liversidge said: “The bottom line is you can’t get something for nothing any more. The government only wants to give you benefits if you do something for them, so people need to learn to change their lifestyles.

“They only want to do it once it hits them in the pocket, and then it is too late. That is partly why we see so many people aged 18 to 25 homeless and out of work.”

Mr Liversidge believes the cuts will continue, but urges the government to give more aid to projects like DENS and food banks which are there to help those affected.

He said: “For these people to change their lifestyles they need support. Organisations like us who have got to do that work need support, from the community and from the government.”

DENS hopes to manage a 33-bed homeless hostel, expected in March 2015 if planning permission is granted.

A launch day is planned for the new DENS furniture warehouse at Paradise in Hemel Hempstead town centre.

The warehouse, and the adjoining charity shop, will be open from 10am to 2pm on Saturday, June 29. There will be be a tea and cakes stall, ice cream van and the Sunnyside Rural Trust will have some plants and produce for sale.

There’s free parking for charity shop and warehouse visitors.

The charity shop has recently received a donation of 200 pairs of brand new top name children’s shoes such as Startrite, Clarks, which are now on sale in the shop at just £7.99 per pair.

Click here to find out more about the work of DENS