A project funded by North Tyneside CCG, to convert a disused garage into a Men’s Community Shed is making ready to open its doors to local community use.

Based at the Linskill Centre in North Shields, the focus will be on improving the health and wellbeing of men in North Tyneside. Men in Sheds is an international initiative focusing on encouraging social connections, developing friendships and having fun while improving the health and wellbeing of participants. It is recognised that older men find it harder to make friends in later life, are less likely to seek social support and are more prone to loneliness and isolation impacting on their health and wellbeing.

The project aims to address this by creating a community space for activities and engagement with older men in the borough. Whilst men are the main focus of the project, women will also be welcome. The first of its kind in North Tyneside, the shed will be somewhere for men to meet, socialise and learn new skills. The emphasis will be on helping the older, the bereaved, the retired, veterans, those socially isolated or carers, as well those in health recovery.

A project worker has recently been appointed to develop and promote the service. This will include inducting new members into safe use of the space and liaising with other local organisations such as North Tyneside Council, the voluntary sector and GP Surgeries for signposting and social prescribing.

The aims of the service are to:

• Reduce the negative impacts of social isolation and loneliness on the emotional wellbeing of health-vulnerable men and veterans (in particular, but without exclusion of women).

• Improve social confidence through participation in meaningful, creative, practical and stimulating activities, towards members re-gaining sense of purpose and belonging.

• Invest an asset-based approach; encouraging skill-sharing whereby members are encouraged to take active roles in helping manage the shed and help others to access the space.

• Improve members’ health awareness, independence and promote self-efficacy, with the aim of reducing and/or preventing up-scaling.

Over recent months a team of volunteer Shedders have built work benches and equipped the space with tools and equipment, ready to welcome new members from October onwards. This is not a referral project as participation will be by choice, but signposting is welcomed. Contact: David Pearce (Project Worker. Mon & Thursday) david@linskill.org or Janice Irving (Community Development Manager) janice@linskill.org for more information.