A SUFFOLK project based in a former shipping container and designed to encourage men to talk, has officially reopened this week, thanks to a community grant.
The Debenham Men’s Shed is part of a national network – UK Men’s Shed Association – and brings men (and women too) together to chat and exchange skills, on projects like domestic repairs and village maintenance projects.
Throughout the pandemic, the group had been forced to close its doors, but now a grant of £2,500 has ensured it can relaunch with all safety measures in place, and with more garden tools to be used by new and existing members.
The funds have been awarded via the Suffolk Community Restart programme, which is being led by Community Action Suffolk and is made possible through partnership working involving Suffolk County Council, East Suffolk Council, West Suffolk Council, Ipswich Borough Council and Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils.
Debenham Shed is based in a 40ft shipping container in the village’s Low Road, and the charity was able to purchase PPE equipment and tools, before hosting a relaunch party at its base last week.
A spread of food was generously provided by the East of England Co-op.
Douglas Tatem, fundraiser, said: “We’re delighted to have been able to formally reopen our Debenham Shed and are so grateful to all those from within the community who turned out to show their support and to welcome us back.
“It’s been a challenging time for so many over the last year, and we know that the nature of Men’s Sheds is that they provide an incredibly powerful asset in the lives of those who attend.”
He added: “We feel very fortunate to have been in receipt of a Community Restart grant, enabling us to get back up and running quickly and safely.”
Commenting on the reopening, Alan Page, from UK Men’s Shed Association, said: “It’s such a happy occasion to see another shed welcoming back the community after many months of disruption or closure throughout the pandemic.
“As a nationwide network, we recognise what a part we play in the mental and emotional wellbeing of those who visit regularly, and we know that the concept helps us prevent isolation and loneliness.
“I wish the Debenham team every success for the summer and beyond.”
Jonny Wood, for Community Action Suffolk’s ‘Restart’ team, added: “The Shed is exactly the kind of initiative we look to support through the Restart programme.
“It’s bringing something excellent to the community by way of a sociable opportunity, and by awarding the team a grant, we’ve enabled people to access this facility much more quickly and safely than might otherwise have been possible.
“We’re excited to see how the group progresses in the year ahead.”
Applications for the Suffolk Community Grants still open and can be accessed by
Chrissie Geeson, Chair of the Collaborative Communities Board said: “We are so pleased to be able to provide the Community Restart funding for voluntary and community groups.
“Now, more than ever, is it so important to connect communities and to help reduce isolation for all ages.”