Honiton support group for men's mental health look to expand workshop space

As part of the Men’s Shed movement, Honiton Shedders has become a valued haven for members; offering a place of connection within a shared workshop space.

The project got up and running in March 2019, thanks in-part to money received from the Co-op Local Community Fund.

Michael Mulrain, who helped set-up the project, explained: “Our progress since we started last year has been slow and steady, as we occupy a relatively small space and want to ensure that we provide the necessary support to each recruit.

“We are not a formal care centre, however we deal with people who have various issues so it’s important we can give people individual attention.

“We all support each other in our shared interest of building, making and fixing things.

“We have core productions, which are undertaken as a group - such as bird feeders and fire beaters - and we encourage people to bring in their own projects; for example one of our members is working on renovating a model steam engine.”

Currently closed due to coronavirus; the workshop operates out of a disused IT cabin on School Lane in Honiton and opens Thursday mornings from 9.30am. There are 21 members - six of whom are on the Shed Management Committee.

Just 12 months after setting up, Honiton Shedders is looking to expand their workspace. Despite current restrictions, fundraising has begun to purchase a steel shipping container to convert into an additional metal workshop.

Chairman, Vernon Whitlock said: “The current building is being used for woodworking and as a social area, but we are quickly realising that we need more space.

“The structure of the container will allow us to carry out welding and other metal work projects. This will significantly add to the opportunities we can provide for members to learn and develop new skills in a friendly supportive environment.

“We are fortunate in having a member experienced in welding and metal work who is advising us and helping with the plans to convert the container into a workshop.”

The main drive behind Men’s Shed is to help reduce loneliness and isolation within the community; particularly with men who may be struggling with mental health, or caring for a partner.

However, while the initiative focuses on men’s mental health, the project is all-inclusive and also welcomes women who wish to become involved.

Using money donated by Co-op members at the store in Lace Walk, Honiton Shedders were able to buy health and safety equipment required in a workshop environment.

Group treasurer, Rob Newell added: “We received £256.65 from the fund in April.

“This is the first of two biannual payments. The amount paid is dependent entirely on the goodwill of Co-op members who have opted to transfer a per cent of their membership discount on Co-op goods and services to us.

“This has enabled us to buy protective gear such as masks, goggles and dust-extraction fans which are needed when operating machinery.”

For more information on Honiton Shedders click here.

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