DENS Bike Project: More than fixing bikes

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DENS provides a wide range of services to support those facing homelessness, poverty, and social exclusion. We had the pleasure of visiting DENS to learn more about one of their social enterprises: The Bike Project.

DENS offers homeless people more than just a roof and a bed. They aim to be the first port of call for people in the borough of Dacorum, Hertfordshire who are facing homelessness, poverty, and social exclusion; supporting and empowering people to develop their skills and their confidence so that they can take the next positive step in their lives.

Trina Myatt, Head of Finance and Resources at DENS, tells us more:

Thanks to a Charity Bank loan, DENS were able to purchase one of their seven Move On properties. These properties are vital in helping DENS clients rebuild their lives. Unlike the hostel facilities offered, Move On properties offer residents more independence.

In the Move On properties, Key Workers support residents weekly, then fortnightly, for up to 18 months. This gradual reduction of support gives residents the opportunity to develop the skills and confidence they need to be able to live independently; so that they can then move on to find a place of their own to live in the future.

Last month we were lucky enough to visit DENS at their Bike Project.

Located a short distance from their 44 bed hostel, The Elms, the Bike Project was set up to give those using the hostel facilities, as well as those who are currently homeless, a chance to come together, work on the bikes, learn new skills, and ultimately have a good time.

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"We sit down and have lunch together every time we’re open. It’s about coming here and people knowing they have a place they are a part of what we are doing here."

DENS participant

Bikes are donated to the project where they are repaired and improved by volunteers and participants, then priced and sold on site. Each participant also gets to keep a bike they have worked on and for each bike fixed and sold, half of that money goes towards a participant’s training.

Joss Cox, Manager of the DENS Bike Project speaks about the power of the Bike Project

Over the next few months participants are going to be able to be trained up to become bike mechanics through the internationally recognised training and accreditation scheme, Cytech. The DENS team also hope to be able to employ a participant full time, with the aim of helping them to independently finance their own accommodation.

The Bike Project offers more than just a chance to fix bikes, it offers a chance for people to find companionship, a purpose, a place to go where they feel wanted and a platform where they can grow.

‘When I first came down, I must admit I was at a very low point in my life. My first day here I was a little bit quiet, it takes me a little while to warm up to some people, but after my first week of coming down here, it’s just something I’m going to do every week now.’

DENS participant
DENS bike project images

DENS Bike Project participants and volunteers

Watch this powerful video about the difference DENS and the Bike Project are making to the lives of homeless people here:

If you need finance to allow your organisation to grow, please call Charity Bank on +44 (0)1732 441900.

About Charity Bank

Charity Bank is the loans and savings bank owned by and committed to supporting the social sector. Since 2002, we have used our savers’ money to make more than 1000 loans totalling over £350m to housing, education, social care, community and other social purpose organisations.

Find out more about us here.

Nothing in this article constitutes an invitation to engage in investment activity nor is it advice or a recommendation and professional advice should be taken before any course of action is pursued.