‘Men’s Shed’ community group has been launches in Fleetwood to help tackle social isolation

Barry Parkinson posted on Feb 6 2019

Men in Sheds Fleetwood Jan 2019

Men in Sheds Fleetwood Jan 2019

new ‘Men’s Shed’ community group has been launched in Fleetwood to help tackle social isolation by giving men a place to share skills and knowledge and meet new people.

The group is part of the UK wide Men’s Shed movement. These groups have been set up at locations all over the country to give people the chance to build friendships and share practical skills such as making and mending. Although labelled ‘sheds’, they often aren’t sheds at all. They can be empty offices, Portakabins, warehouses and garages. The groups typically attract older men, but younger members and women are welcome too.

The Fleetwood group was started out by local man Tony O’Neil. Similar to most new ‘Men’s Sheds’, the group didn’t have a place to meet. After several weeks of getting together over a coffee in Wetherspoons, the group now meet at the pavilion at Memorial Park after working with Wyre Council to find suitable premises. The council, Lancashire Care NHS Trust and Healthier Fleetwood are now supporting the group to help it attract more members and to become self-sufficient.

Tony explains, ‘I started thinking about setting up a group like this two years ago after a number of young men in Fleetwood, including friends of mine, took their own lives. I decided to make it happen and started up the first shed meeting last year. In the first week only one member turned up and I almost gave up. But a week later four men turned up and now we have a core group and new members who turn up weekly.’

He continued ‘I want this to be a group that welcomes everyone with open arms, whatever your background, there is no judgement here. We are here to listen and point people in the right direction. If just one person turns around one day and says that they might not be here if they’d not come along then I’ve achieved what I set out to do. Improving mental health is just one side of the group. We want to offer practical help too, perhaps to those who need help getting online or just provide some company to those who might be lonely. Now that we have established the group we are planning to put our skills to good use. We’re going to see what skills everyone in the group can bring and maybe start to upcycle furniture to sell or provide a bike repair service.’

Councillor Lynne Bowen, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Health and Community Engagement commented ‘Research has shown that loneliness and isolation can have a damaging effect on health and wellbeing. It can also bring with it issues of not knowing how to access support and services. In particular at retirement age people can feel lost and lose their sense of purpose. Groups such as this can provide a lifeline. Every credit to Tony for getting the group off the ground and for continuing to encourage new members. I’m so pleased we are able to support the Fleetwood Men’s shed in this way. It’s a great idea and we’re hoping to develop similar groups elsewhere in the borough.’

To find out more follow Men’s Shed Fleetwood on Facebook
or come along to a group meeting on Thursdays from 10am to 12pm at Memorial Park’s pavilion