Crawley Men’s Shed project set up to tackle loneliness

Crawley Men's Shed Project in Millpond Adventure Playground in Bewbush. (L-R) project co-ordinator Ian Sage, Chris Mullins, cabinet member for wellbeing, and member Derek Hooker - picture submitted by Crawley Borough Council
Crawley Men's Shed Project in Millpond Adventure Playground in Bewbush. (L-R) project co-ordinator Ian Sage, Chris Mullins, cabinet member for wellbeing, and member Derek Hooker - picture submitted by Crawley Borough Council

Crawley Borough Council with the help of Mitie and Mears has started Crawley’s very own Men’s Shed project based at the Millpond Adventure Playground in Bewbush.

The idea which originally started in Australia in 2006 aims to provide support to men who may have recently retired, carers, widowers and those who might prefer to share and learn skills to take part in meaningful and productive projects. This includes, gardening, woodwork and other practical tasks. There are now more than 1,200 sheds in Australia and the scheme has gone global, including the ‘shed’ now here in Crawley and several others across West Sussex.

Crawley Borough Council contractors; Mears Group working with the Mears Foundation has committed to supporting activities that seek to address isolation and loneliness, taking action in their local communities to help tackle this serious and growing social issue. In Crawley this meant playing an active part in the Men’s Shed project. This involved finding the ‘shed’, preparing it for use and putting it in place at Millpond Adventure Playground in Bewbush. Then completing all the groundworks needed, using a trackway system to get it into place and add a finishing touch preparing the flowerbeds ready for planting. Both Mears and Mitie have donated materials and tools for the ‘Shedders’ to use.

The shed is open every Friday from 10am-2pm and aims to appeal to all types of skills sets and hobbies. Project co-ordinator Ian Sage who manages the shed on behalf of Crawley Borough Council said: “This project is all about getting the local community together and encouraging older men to be more social, and pass on their skills. We want to get this project up and running and fully functional as quick as possible, but to do that we really need the support of the local community. Whether it be in the form of volunteers helping out around the shed every week or simply donating tools and supplies for us to carry out projects.

“The shed is a place where group members can feel at home to pursue practical interests, skill-sharing and informal learning as well as being a place to socialise with like-minded people. The group also aims at helping and supporting people with dementia engage with activities that are relevant to them.”

Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Councillor Chris Mullins, said “This is a fantastic project that can really benefit and support many members of our community, it’s important that we provide these opportunities to those who may not otherwise, have much social interaction or support.”

For more information about the project or to find out how to donate to the project, contact the Project Coordinator by emailing shed@crawley.gov.uk

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