Kent Sheds Initiative

As part of Men’s Health Week, Kent residents are being urged to join their local Sheds project which aims to support wellbeing by encouraging people to make friends, share skills and support their local community.

During the current social distancing guidelines, a number of Sheds have adapted to offer members support on a virtual reality basis. One of these is the Bodgers Hut in Whitstable which has around 40 members and is led by 76-year-old retired carpenter Tony Arnold. He explains:

“I live alone and I joined for the social company and to pass on my carpentry skills, teaching the members the correct use of tools and basic carpentry skills. The members make their own individual projects with my assistance. During lockdown, we’re communicating by WhatsApp regularly and Facebook.

“We have men and woman members from 25 years-old and upwards; many are single, lack company and confidence and may have mental health problems. The companionship of the gang helps people to socialise and improve self-confidence. I think men in sheds is a great organisation.”

The Kent Sheds project started in 2014, jointly funded by Libor, building on the success of the international Men’s Sheds movement, in a bid to tackle issues such as loneliness, social isolation and mental health problems.

The Men’s Sheds movement, which started in Australia – initially aimed at recently retired men. Kent Sheds are for men of all ages and women. You can find more information about the SBS project at https://www.kent.gov.uk/business/business-loans-and-funding/eu-funding/step-by-step-funding

Each Shed is unique to reflect local interest and skills of those attending. Very few are actual ‘sheds’ and most – during normal circumstances – have fun and engaging themes and venues such as fishing lakes, boats and allotments.

67-year-old retired Programme Manager, Nigel Sheeran, from the Staplehurst Men’s Shed said:

“I helped get the shed up and running over two years ago and we have 33 members attend at least monthly when we are open.

You may know of potential sheds or premises within your area that may well lend itself to the creation of a new shed or men who may want to start this type of initiate to help others in the area to improve both their physical and mental health. For more information got to www.kentsheds.org plus look out for the Kent Sheds Network Facebook group.