A project targeting loneliness and isolation among men of all ages, has been boosted by support from the Homes Plus My Community Fund.
The Shrewsbury Men’s Shed is based on the West Mid Showground in Shrewsbury where for the last two years, volunteers have been painstakingly converting an old stable block into an impressive community facility.
The project now has 60 members – or what it calls ‘shedders’ – using the workshops and social space. A horticultural area is also taking root. It has received widespread support from local companies, including Homes Plus. Along with some much-needed materials, we provided a grant from My Community Fund which sponsors grass roots initiatives in partnership with Jewson.
Former social worker Simon Rouse is the project’s chairman as well as regional ambassador for the national Men’s Shed organisation. He explains:
“Men are often hard to reach and can easily find ourselves isolated. We don’t tend to go to coffee mornings and we are less likely to engage with adult education. We’re also notorious for not going to the doctor until it’s too late and being reluctant to talk about finding life tough. What guys do like doing is messing about with tools, mending and making things.
“This is a place for men to meet, to chat around a table or over a bit of machinery.”
The shedders are using their skills and enthusiasm not only to convert the shed itself but also to help local community groups. In recent weeks, the Shrewsbury Men’s Shed has handed over a work bench to the Shropshire Cycle Hub and completed an ambitious, Victorian-style sound system for Shropshire Inclusive Dance. They have produced owl boxes for the RSPB and are working on a bench for the veterans’ centre at the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry.
They are also busy constructing a floating pontoon, which could result in a river taxi service between the showground and the town centre.
Shedder Iain, is clear about the social importance of the project: “It’s male companionship, that’s the thing. As Simon often says, put ten blokes in a room and ask them to talk about themselves, five will walk out, the other five will stand there, twiddling their toes. Put the same ten guys in there with a broken lawnmower and within then minutes they all know each other and if you are really lucky, the lawnmower will be working as well.”
Homes Plus neighbourhoods manager Mark Pragg, went to see the shed in action. “I am delighted that our My Community Fund has been able to help such a fantastic local project. The shedders very kindly invited me to take a look around the workshops and it’s amazing to see what they’re building in there. Shrewsbury Men’s Shed is doing such great work, in so many ways.”
Learn more about the Homes Plus My Community Fund and apply for grants online at https://www.homesplus.co.uk/help-and-advice/the-my-community-fund/