New shed project in Saffron Walden aims to tackle social isolation

PUBLISHED: 08:27 26 April 2019

A 'men's shed' is launching in Saffron Walden. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

A 'men's shed' is launching in Saffron Walden. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Archant

A community shed project has launched in Saffron Walden to give people who enjoy doing practical work a place to meet together, make friends and socialise.

Research has shown that loneliness is a growing problem in modern society and, with an ageing population, many older people, particularly men, are finding that they are isolated.

The shed movement originally started in Australia, but there are now more than 480 shed groups in the UK.

The aim of Saffron Walden Community Shed is to bring together both men and women who enjoy working in sheds, doing odd jobs of any description and spending time together.

The shed is primarily aimed at those who are retired or unemployed and looking for somewhere to make friends.

A small team, led by Michael Watts, started work on the project in September last year and they were offered a space by the trustees of St Mark's College at Audley End in their River Barn.

They began fundraising and working to set up a workshop, installing work benches, new lighting and a range of wood working equipment and they have been supported by donations from a number of local businesses and individuals.

They began operating as a community shed at the beginning of April and they are open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings.

Mr Watts said: “We have already taken on a number of small projects to support other groups in the area and are currently working with Saffron Walden Museum making bird boxes and garden planters for a project they are running during the summer.

“We are keen to be involved in recycling and a number of our projects involve the reuse of scrap wood and pallets.”

As well as being supported by the Essex Shed Network, the shed is also part of the UK Men's Shed Association.

The Essex Shed Network is a partnership between Maldon and District Council for Voluntary Service and Council for Voluntary Service Uttlesford which was formed in 2016.

The partnership was formed as a result of a conversation between the two directors – Sarah Troop Laskar and Clive Emmett – who realised that they shared a common passion for men's sheds and the difference they can make to the lives of men at risk from loneliness or isolation.

The shed in Saffron Walden will be officially opened on May 4 at 11am by Mr Emmett.

More information can be found at www.swshed.org.uk or on Facebook @swshed.

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