A SUCCESSFUL community project is hoping to expand its reach throughout Copeland.
Men in Sheds, which originated on the Mirehouse estate in Whitehaven, offers the chance for men to gather in a larger version of a typical garden shed, where they share tools and resources to work on projects in a safe and inclusive environment.
The Copeland Hub, which supports the project, now aims to roll it out to the rest of the borough through the introduction of a Copeland Shed Network.
Louise Coid, Manager of Copeland Hub, said: “There can be little doubt that projects like Men in Sheds add value to a community. But what makes the Sheds so special is that they are not health projects or social care projects for people with a particular label.
“You do not need to be lonely or depressed; you can simply be a retired builder or someone who has always wanted to learn woodwork.”
Compared with women, men are at greater risk of isolation and loneliness. Older men are more likely to be socially isolated than women of a similar age due to less contact with family, greater reluctance to join clubs or ask for support, and a report produced by the Campaign to End Loneliness has found that isolation has a comparable effect on mortality with well-known health factors such as obesity and smoking.
In Copeland, Age UK started the Men in Sheds project in Mirehouse, with the running of the shed being handed over to the Mirehouse Community Centre Association in recent years.
In 2016, the Copeland Hub began supporting the development of the project to enable it to offer additional activities and increase capacity. The development is supported by local businesses including Morgan Sindall Ltd, West Coast Group, Sellafield Ltd and Travis Perkins.
Jamie Reed, Head of Development and Community Relations at Sellafield Ltd, said: “I’m proud that Sellafield Ltd is backing the Men in Sheds project, which is a really innovative way of promoting wellbeing in the area.
“The campaign is doing a fantastic job to raise awareness of issues around social isolation, and is already creating a new sense of community and support for local people.
“We look forward to seeing how the shed we have provided, and our ongoing support to Well Whitehaven, will contribute to a better quality of life and culture in Copeland.”
Copeland Hub is a partnership between Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria Constabulary, which brings a number of agencies together to tackle anti-social behaviour and organise community projects.
To see the work of Men in Sheds, visit www.facebook.com/Men-in-Sheds-Mirehouse-124101614928615/. For help and advice to begin to develop a shed in your local area, email email@example.com.