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[p][b]Campaigners launch local appeal to help fund life-line ‘Men in Sheds’ project[/b][/p][p]The long term future of the local ground-breaking ‘Men in Sheds’ project run by Age UK Bromley and Greenwich looks to be uncertain as its National Lottery funding comes to an end. [/p][p]Now the project – which is a life-line for isolated older men trying to stay healthy and active – needs to raise vital funds to help keep ‘Men in Sheds’ going. The project’s success has just spurred on the launch, too, of a ‘Women in Sheds’ pilot initiative, but the future of both will be in jeopardy without local support.[/p][p]Nationally acclaimed since its launch by DIY expert, Tommy Walsh in 2010 and in a ‘National Lottery’ television debut with DJ Chris Evans in 2013, ‘Men in Sheds’ has grown from strength to strength with sheds in Eltham, Woolwich and Penge and 656 men on its books. Age UK Bromley and Greenwich, an independent local charity, wants desperately to keep the Sheds open.[/p][p]“It’s a truly local project doing good locally. The Sheds are a hive of wood-working, green recycling and DIY activity - a great tonic for everyone involved,” said Age UK Bromley and Greenwich’s CEO, Mark Ellison. “Our aim is to provide activities to help older men who are known by researchers to be at great risk of social isolation and loneliness. These can put them at severe risk of illness and mental health issues.”[/p][p]“Men have told us time and again that ‘Men in Sheds’ has been a life-line and made a huge difference to their health and well-being, especially at key times like post-retirement or following a bereavement.[/p][p]Men also have one stop access to Age UK Bromley and Greenwich’s other services, including health-signposting, information and welfare advice.[/p][p]The idea for ‘Men in Sheds’ was based on an Australian experiment in the 90s which impressed Age UK as an effective 21st century response to issues affecting older men in this country and the needs of our ageing population.[/p][p]Evidence of the project’s effectiveness is compelling. Using Age UK’s own measurement for Loneliness, the annual questionnaires have shown improvements in levels of loneliness annually of up to 40% year on year, improvements in building their social networks of up to 55% and increased feelings of well-being up by up to 32%.[/p][p]“From the start, Age UK Bromley and Greenwich enrolled the generous support of the National Lottery and other funders like the Dunhill Medical Trust for ‘Men in Sheds’,” said Mark. “We would love to keep fully funding it but as a local charity we are stretched and rely on outside funders like the National Lottery to financially support much-needed projects like this.” [/p][p]In the immediate future the charity is stretching its own funds to keep the project going for the coming months, albeit in a reduced format, while a fundraising effort gets under way. New funding needs to be found for it to continue helping older men locally. Because of forced economies, one staff member already had to be made redundant, and the hours of other team members have been reduced meaning that Shed opening times have had to be cut back.[/p][p] “The ‘Men in Sheds’ project is truly amazing,” said one of the Shed Coordinators, Colin Denny. “ Men vote with their feet and come to the workshops every day. As pensioners their incomes can be low but they do contribute what they can. They also make amazing things like duck houses and wooden bridges for local nature reserves and bird boxes and toys for children that we sell to raise funds at Christmas fairs. We also run Repair Cafes and Mobile sheds to help isolated people in sheltered accommodation.”[/p][p] “A gift to Age UK Bromley and Greenwich for the ‘Men in Sheds’ project is an investment in the health and well-being of deserving local older men in our community. If you can afford to help out we would love to hear from you. Together we can secure the future of ‘Men in Sheds’.”[/p][p]“It is not only the men either,” said Colin. “Our Women in Sheds projects in Penge and Woolwich are proving really popular and we would like to develop these too. Our Mobile Sheds go on the road to run 4 to 6 week workshops with older frail people in residential homes. All this great work will stop if we do not have the funds to keep it going.”[/p][p]People can make one-off donations or commit to monthly gifts.[/p][p]Local businesses are invited to sponsor ‘Men in Sheds’ (Age UK Bromley and Greenwich) or choose it as their ‘Charity of the Year’. Contact Jerry Doyle, Fundraising Manager on [url=http://mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]email@example.com[/url] 07506507061 if you can offer any kind of support. [/p][p]“It costs at least £100,000 per year to run the whole of the Sheds project across 2 boroughs covering 3 skilled coordinators who support Shedders, tools, materials, rental and other costs. Efforts are being made to raise some funds from Trusts and Foundations, but the role of local people will be crucial in deciding whether the Sheds project continues or not. Anything that is raised or donated will help us towards that total,” said Mark.[/p][p]If men – and women – aged over 50 - are interested in coming along to Age UK Bromley and Greenwich’s ‘Men in Sheds’ or pilot ‘Women in Sheds’ groups call 020 8294 3013. [/p][p][b]Below are just some of the men who have been impacted by the project and what they have to say about it:[br][/b][/p][p]- JJ, 80, joined Men in Sheds a couple of months after it opened in 2010. JJ’s wife had recently died and he didn’t know what to do with himself and was in a very bad place. JJ has been a regular, skilled and very active member of the Shed taking part in countless community projects, commissions and making items for sale. JJ is also one of the most prominent members involved in Shed socials; BBQ’s etc. - “I enjoy coming here, when the Shed will be shut on Mondays I won’t know what to do with myself, and I’ll be ripping my hair out. The hours being cut has knocked me sideways”.[/p][p]- Tony, 77, joined the shed weeks after it opened. Tony’s wife thought Tony needed somewhere to go to be active and meet people, as he had become a “couch potato” and missed the banter of his work colleagues since retiring. Tony acquired the nickname “Tony Wheelbarrow” after making 50+ wheelbarrows for sale to the public. The impact of the Shed closing for some days in the week will hit Tony hard as he calls in most days. “I’m coming up to 78 and its nearly 10 years since I joined.l Its going to take something away from us. I don’t know what I am going to do now especially as I am older – what else is there to do?[/p][p]- John, 89, a retired Architect joined the Shed in 2010. After retiring he had attended woodwork/carpentry classes for several years. John has been one of the team on several community projects including building wooden bridges for Friends of a local park and an assault course for a school for young people with autism, physical and mental health challenges. “If the Shed packs up what am I going to do? I really like what I’m doing, I’ve made amazing things – I really enjoy it – I still do.[/p][p]- Terry, 73, picked up a leaflet on Men in Sheds and got in touch. Terry had been a carpenter and he wanted to keep his hand in. The social aspect of the Shed also appealed. Since retiring, Terry had lost touch with most of his work friends and thought that the Shed might be a way of making new mates. Terry achieved his aim of making friends. “Before I came here I had nothing to do apart from sit around and wonder what to do”.[/p][p]- Gordon, 73, has attended since 2016. Gordon worked as a lorry driver in Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. After retiring, Gordon moved into retirement housing. His days consisted of getting up, doing his housework and helping female neighbours with repairs and odd jobs. When no-one needed his help he felt “lonely”. Gordon has thrown himself into Shed life, volunteering at Mobile Shed workshops in retirement schemes and on the pilot Women in Sheds project. It has addressed his feelings of loneliness. He also has an increased network of support, which became clear when he found he had been burgled and was immediately contacted by Shed friends with offers of help. “The Shed has made a vast difference. I would be lost without it. Less days at the Shed will cause disruption. Everyone I spoke to is in total disbelief – we are all scared by it.”[/p][p][br][/p]