The garden shed has long been a favoured refuge for many men, and now a project in Collingham is seeking to harness the famed therapeutic power of pottering as part of an effort to combat social isolation.
Pottering in a shed at Collingham, from the left, Mr Richard Challand, of Bell Lane, Mr Clive Gilmore, of Curtis Close, Mr Derek Middlemiss, of High Street, and Mr John Leigh and Mr Nick May, both of Lunn Lane. (180213MW1-2)
The village wants to provide a communal shed where men can go to do a spot of woodwork and d-i-y, meet up with friends and make new ones.
The project, called Men in Sheds, aims to provide activities and companionship for men who could become isolated or depressed for reasons such as bereavement, divorce, redundancy or retirement.
The idea started in Australia, where there are 700 sheds, and there are three in the UK (including one at Blidworth) running as part of an Age UK trial.
The Collingham shed aims to go it alone though, and whereas the other sheds are aimed primarily at older men, project leader Mr John Leigh said its shed would be for anyone aged from 18 to 100-plus.
Mr Leigh, 66, of Lunn Lane, Collingham, said: “Men don’t communicate as well as women. In fact it is often said that women talk face to face but men talk shoulder to shoulder.
“Men can often become isolated, particularly after retirement or redundancy. There can be a lack of male activities, or a female dominance of some groups that puts them off.
“Men in Sheds is designed to provide somewhere accessible and welcoming to overcome any feelings of boredom or isolation that men may have.
“We have spoken to people involved in the Blidworth shed and many men said it had given them a purpose. Some had even considered suicide before they joined.
“It came along and gave them somewhere to go and people to talk to.
“They have made bird boxes and gazebos and things for the house, but it is not just restricted to d-i-y. Guest speakers could be invited, or men could give talks on their particular areas of expertise.”
About 25 men interested in the project attended a meeting at the Phoenix Community Hall, Collingham, where ideas for the shed were discussed and questionnaires distributed.
A 700sq ft shed has already been identified off Station Road, courtesy of Collingham-based Gusto Homes.
Volunteers will be needed to run the project, which it is envisaged would open five days a week.
There would be one paid coordinator required, and the shed would need to be stocked with tools. It is hoped people will donate unwanted equipment.
The project has the backing of Rural Communities Action Nottinghamshire (RCAN) and will apply for lottery funding.
The aim is to be up and running by the autumn.
Anyone interested should contact Mr Leigh on 892606 or email [email protected]