Case: HUSET offers a sense of community and peace of mind

In Herning, the independent association HUSET offers a sanctuary for socially disadvantaged citizens. The association has a dream that its newly refurbished multi-purpose room will create a better communal environment and make it easier for people to take the first tentative steps across the threshold.

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Henrik Hedelund, HUSET’s daily leader, is looking forward to decorating the wall with printed Troldtekt panels.
Troldtekt, CSR 2016 - Samfund

When you step through the door of HUSET in Herning, no one will ask why you have come. Whether you feel lonely, are grappling with alcoholism or are in financial problems, you are always welcome to drop by for a cup of coffee, a meal or just to have a chat about this and that. HUSET offers an accommodating social fellowship which can provide a break from the challenges of daily life.
HUSET is run by an independent association without religious or political affiliations. In addition to serving food and coffee each day, the association organises excursions, talks and other events for the socially disadvantaged, their relations and anyone else who is interested. Independence is both a strength and a weakness, explains Henrik Hedelund, who is the daily leader:
– We don’t have to ask anyone for permission when planning activities for our users. On the other hand, being on our own also leaves us vulnerable, especially financially. We want to keep our user fees low, because if they’re too high, it’s often those with the greatest need who are excluded. We’re therefore very dependent on funding from foundations and businesses.

A room for many purposes
HUSET’s premises in Bryggergade in Herning are the focal point for most of the activities.  The property includes a courtyard garden and a building with a carpentry, glass and bicycle workshop. Neither the glass workshop nor the large carpentry workshop were being used that often, so the association decided to transform the former into a multi-purpose room which can be used for a variety of activities.
– We want to create a room with a flexible layout. During the day, it will be used as a café with the possibility of playing pool and darts.

Once the new multi-purpose room is finished, it can be used for everything from games to singing.
Troldtekt, CSR 2016 - Samfund

A friendly game can often help people forget their problems for a while. However, in the evening, it will serve as a venue for singing and talks. It’s particularly evening gatherings with singing from the High School songbook which have been very popular, says Henrik Hedelund.

Events attract people to HUSET
The association already has several events planned for when the multi-purpose room is completed in spring 2017. And they are definitely not just for the daily users. On the contrary, HUSET wants to attract as many outside guests as possible. Partly because it is a good opportunity to break down taboos and prejudices about social drop-in centres, and partly because the events can help potential users to overcome their reluctance and step through the door.
– It can be very difficult to cross the threshold for the first time. Many people, especially those feeling lonely, are afraid to reveal their own vulnerability. On the other hand, they can use an evening of singing as an ‘excuse’ to come in and check us out. Many people think that our users are down-and-outs who hang out on benches. However, only 1 per cent fall into this category. The remaining 99 per cent could be anyone from your neighbour or a family father to a CEO or a teenage daughter,” says Henrik Hedelund.

Supported with labour and materials
A number of businesses, foundations and organisations have contributed to making HUSET’s dream of a multi-purpose room a reality. Troldtekt has donated an acoustic ceiling so that the acoustics are perfect whether the room is being used as a café or for singing or a talk. Students from the local technical school lent a hand installing the ceiling in the multi-purpose room.

The old carpentry workshop which has now been transformed into a multi-purpose room.
Troldtekt, CSR 2016 - Samfund