The Kent Sheds project started in 2014 building on 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 partnership of organisations from UK, Belgium, France and Holland. Kent County Council (KCC) receives EU funding and commissions Activmob to help create new sheds and develop existing ones.
Each Shed is unique to reflect local interest and skills. Very few are actual ‘sheds’ and most have engaging themes and venues such as fishing lakes, boats and allotments. Prior to lockdown in March 2020, there were 21 ‘real’ sheds and these have tried to continue in some fashion while another three new ‘virtual’ sheds have also been created.
67-year-old retired Programme Manager, Nigel, from the Staplehurst 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 and those with just a telephone. We have members offering weekly quizzes and have also set-up a telephone communications tree where pockets of a few members keep in touch.
Activmob Director Caroline Hooper explained how they have been supporting the Sheds: “We saw how important it was to the Shed members to maintain connections, not only with their own Shed members but with other Sheds. We set up the Virtual Shed so members could continue to support each other.
“We have the Quiz Virtual Shed and the Activity Shed 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 all the days start to look the same.”
65-year-old John living in Maidstone has been a member of Cobtree Men’s Shed, Aylesford for nearly five years.
He said: “I have been a regular attendee of the weekly video conference meetings.
He added: “I would encourage others to join a Kent Shed so they can find out what others are doing and share information, problems, solutions, interests and skills.
For more information got to www.kentsheds.org and see leaflet attached for more information.