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Case Studies from the Sector: UK Men’s Sheds Association

This project was supported by Suffolk Community Restart.

Debenham Shed is part of a national network of ‘Men’s Sheds’ which encourages people to come together, share experiences and stay active, whilst being involved in some kind of repair or ‘making’ activity.

To submit your own case studies, email bryony.glover@communityactionsuffolk.org.uk. We’d love to help spread the word about your organisation.

Full text version:

There are many people in Debenham who have retired but who wish to stay active and get involved locally. Some have lost partners, feel isolated, or do not have great health. Luckily, the Men’s Shed is a great way for them to come together.

It all started back in 2018, when a small group of people in Debenham were invited to use a 40ft container on a Community Supported Farm in return for supporting the farm with some jobs such as repairs and harvesting. The sorts of activities that drew them together aligned well with the UK Men’s Sheds Association projects around the country, so, with advice and support from other shed projects, they soon decided to join the association. The Debenham Shed very quickly became a local hub for those wishing to meet up, make, repair, invent and enjoy being together – both men and women.

Within a few months of opening, the shed acquired a large variety of tools and other useful items, which meant that people could start on a number of different projects involving renovation, restoration or manufacture. Membership expanded to outlying villages and it became apparent that larger premises were going to be required!

When Covid-19 arrived, we soon realised we needed more space to work safely and accommodate more members. We started an expansion plan using three more donated containers, adjoining and linked to the existing one and creating a very large internal space. The shed extension has increased our size fourfold and now safely allows access for everyone, including disabled people. Despite Covid-19, we hope to be able to have many more members participating when the shed reopens. Our project’s reputation has grown quickly and therefore we are increasingly getting requests from all sort of people to join us.

They have largely financed the Debenham Shed construction, but now have to fund and construct a fully-accessible, low-maintenance composting toilet to serve the shed. Currently they have limited toilet facilities, with an increasing membership in future, a toilet will be essential! Restart has kindly awarded us £2,500 to help with this.

Are you interested in finding out more? Head to their website.