As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Kent residents are being urged to join their local Sheds project which aims to support wellbeing by encouraging people to make friends, share skills and support their local community.
During the current social distancing guidelines, a number of Sheds have adapted to offer members support on a virtual reality basis.
The Kent Sheds project started in 2014, jointly funded by Libor, building on the success of the international Men’s Sheds movement, in a bid to tackle issues such as loneliness, social isolation and mental health problems.
Now part of EU SBS Sheds, the project is a collaborative, innovative partnership of different organisations from UK, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Kent County Council (KCC) receives EU funding as part of the SBS Sheds project and commissions ActivMob to help create new sheds and develop existing mobs.
Prior to lockdown in March 2020, there were 21 ‘real’ sheds in existence and – since restrictions began – those sheds have tried to continue in some fashion while another three new ‘virtual’ sheds have also been created.
67-year-old retired Programme Manager, Nigel Sheeran, from the Staplehurst Mens’ Shed said: “I helped get the shed up and running over two years ago and we have 33 members attend at least monthly when we are open.
“During current lockdown conditions, we’ve had weekly Zoom Calls with most members attending at some occasion. These calls cater for those who have the technology but also those with just a telephone. We also have an active WhatsApp group where members are in daily contact sharing stories, jokes and cartoons. We have different members offering fun Weekly quizzes and have also set-up a telephone communications tree where pockets of three to four members keep in touch and pass on messages. These communications particularly help those who don’t attend the ZOOM call or have medical restrictions such as Dementia.”
ActivMob Director Caroline Hooper explained how they have been supporting the Sheds to adapt during lockdown to continue to support members: “We saw how important it was to the Shed members to maintain connections, not only with their own Shed members but with other Sheds in our network. We set up the Kent wide Virtual Shed so members could continue to support and learn from each other during these uncertain times. It not only provides the support but is also a great way to have fun and get to know each other.
“We have the Quiz Virtual Shed and the Activity Shed also up and running, which bring people together in a common interest where they can talk and learn about things they may not have had an interest in before. Shed members have also said how important it is to have something to look forward to in the week, as in these present times, all the days start to look the same.”
KCC Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, Clair Bell said: “We know that the Coronavirus pandemic and social distancing restrictions are causing anxiety and isolation for some residents; there is support available despite the restrictions and we are pleased that so many Sheds have been able to use digital technology to not just keep running but improve their offer to new members. We are keen for people to get involved who may benefit from the support of Kent Sheds.”
65-year-old John Marsden living in Maidstone, a retired IT Security Consultant, has been a member of Cobtree Men’s Shed, Aylesford for nearly five years. He originally joined the 30-strong group as he was retiring from full-time work and “wanted to do something constructive with my newly acquired spare time”.
He said: “I have been a regular attendee of the weekly video conference meetings arranged by Kent Sheds. I have also been keeping our Shed membership up to date on developments, typically via email and phone conversations. Some of the members, including myself, have been busy working on home projects…I see this as an ideal way for like-minded retired or semi-retired men and women to get together to enjoy each other’s company in a safe and welcoming environment.”
For more information got to www.kentsheds.org plus look out for the Kent Sheds Network Facebook group.
Coping with Life courses at Maidstone and Mid-Kent Mind will no longer be delivered as face-to-face support groups, due to current government guidance which is available surrounding the current COVID-19 outbreak. This means that timetabled dates and times for Coping with Life courses are subject to change – although we are making every effort to continue to offer this support digitally.
To access a course, you must be registered with Live Well Kent. This can be done by completing an easy online referral form.
How will this affect me if I am already booked onto one of your Coping with Life courses?
If you are already booked onto one of our Coping with Life courses, then your course will still go ahead. The dates and times of the delivery for this programme may change, however, and the programme will be delivered digitally as opposed to in a face-to-face format. This means that you will be able to access the course from the comfort of your own home – but you will need to have a device with internet connectivity in order to ensure that you can access the course sessions.
You will also need to have our digital conferencing tool – ZOOM – installed, in order to be able to take part in the conference call. You can install this when first attempting to join your session, but if you would like to install the programme ahead of time, you can do so by clicking here, instead.
What if I want to access services during this period but am not already registered with your service?
We will be continuing to offer New-To-Mind appointments during this period, but they will take place via the telephone or through a digital medium like ZOOM. In order to get in touch and book a New-To-Mind appointment, you can do so by calling one of the two main contact numbers found on this webpage, or by e-mailing email@example.com.
MHFA England have launched an online version of the Adult Half Day training course. Led by an approved instructor, the session on Thursday 28 May will cover:
For more information or to book your place, please visit our website.
Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 18-24 May 2020. The theme this year is kindness. through out the week different organizations will be running various courses. Click on the mental health awareness week on the menu above to see what is being offered this week. you can also go to the mental health awareness week website here for more information and resources as well to find out how to get involved yourself throgh setting up online quizzes, tea and talk etc. you can also look at the free supporter pack which you cna dowbload below.
Due to the closure of their buidling Maidstone Mind will be conducting their activity groups online via zoom.
Weekly sessions will change to accommodate sessions which we are able to deliver remotely. Gardening, Singing and Walking groups will be suspended. This means that there will be no community support groups on Monday or Friday, with Wellbeing Calls being offered instead. These ten minute phone calls will provide you with an opportunity to check in with a Wellbeing Worker and have a conversation – something which we feel is crucial in tackling the isolation and loneliness which can become prevalent at times like this.
Please see the website here for more information
Our Wednesday evening Maidstone Youth Wellbeing Cafe will be suspended due to current guidance around the COVID-19 outbreak.
We are working on developing a Digital Chatroom which will be accessible for young people during this period, providing them with access to a moderated safe space where they can seek peer support.
As of June, or Youth Wellbeing Cafe will take the format of a ZOOM room where young people can take part in a Quiz and other online activities facilitated by our Wellbeing Workers. Click here for more information.