Practical solutions offered in sight of the uncomfortable truth about loneliness amongst men.
Chris Pickles, a resident in the small village of Beer received support from East Devon District Council to start a ‘Men’s Shed’, a communal and creative space for men.
It’s estimated by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness that eight million men (of all ages) in the UK feel lonely at least once a week and one in ten men said they would not admit to feeling lonely. Chris Pickles believes that the implications of loneliness can be severe and that particularly older men, who are perhaps retired, can struggle to find the meaningful connections they need to maintain good mental health.
From a concept that started in Australia, the ‘Men’s Shed’ has spread around the world and in this case to Beer, where men from the village and the surrounding areas can come to make, design, work and laugh together. The Men’s Shed Association, the UK body that helps to set these sheds up around the country, encourages men to start up;
“As a group which meets regularly for the social connection, company and camaraderie until they can find somewhere to kit out with tools. Many sheds get involved in community projects too – restoring village features, helping maintain parks and green spaces, and building things for schools, libraries and individuals in need”.
This is certainly true of the Beer Men’s Shed who since their initial crowdfunding campaign in 2019 have dedicated themselves to a growing list of commissions, including “making a village notice board, carving a name sign for a cottage, making a wooden planter for flowers in the main street” and what will be sure to be many more since then.
In January 2021, the Beer Men’s Shed successfully completed their second crowdfunding campaign to grow their workshop space. Their aim was to cater for more men, while ensuring the necessary room for social distancing and making it more accessible to those with mobility issues. Their campaign received £1,000 in +Extra funding from Devon County Council and East Devon District Council supplied a further £6,500, as part of their commitment to offer up to £10,000 to projects in East Devon encouraging ‘outstanding communities’.
With 30 members across East Devon, there’s a great deal of knowledge sharing between everyone and those with less experience learn new skills through observing others and simply doing. Chris says,
“you tend to find that it’s the older fellas who help the younger guys and by the older fellas I mean those who are about 80 years old and the younger fellas who are about 60”.
“By just joining in projects together, you’ll often find that one guy will start a project and another guy who comes up will end up working with him on it and they’ll form a pair. So you’ll see this pairing happen naturally as the people learn from each other and about each other. And then they’ve made another friend”.
The crowdfunding process has meant that the Beer Men’s Shed has both managed to raise awareness for their fantastic approach for helping men in the East Devon area and the funds needed to welcome more members.
Crowdfund East Devon are supporting projects that benefit their communities and if you’ve got a great idea you could receive up to £10,000 in +Extra funding. Start crowdfunding today.