Hartford's Men in Sheds scheme proving popular in Cheshire (with audio)
PUBLISHED: 19:09 02 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:47 20 February 2013
A scheme in Hartford is giving men a place to go and things to do. Paul Mackenzie sheds some light <br/>Photography by Kirsty Thompson
Click the picture on the right to start playing the audio
This recording is courtesy of The Macclesfield & District Talking Newspaper For The Blind
The Macclesfield & District Talking Newspaper For The Blind produces an 80 minute weekly recording of local news and an additional 80 minute audio magazine which are sent free of charge to around 200 blind and visually impaired people who live in Macclesfield, Bollington, Poynton, Prestbury and surrounding districts or who have links with the area.
They have been providing this service for more than 35 years. All volunteers are unpaid and our work does not attract statutory funding of any kind.
For more information please look at the charity's website, www.macctn.org.uk
For years the shed has been the refuge of men. An escape from woman-kind where generations of blokes have pottered, tinkered and made or mended things. But while most sheds offer a solitary sanctuary, theres one in Hartford which offers much more.
The Men in Sheds scheme was launched here a little over 18 months ago and provides older men with a place to go, a chance to meet new people and, of course, the opportunity to use power tools.
The shed here is more than your average wooden outhouse - it is a unit on an industrial estate filled with woodwork equipment and workbenches.
The Hartford scheme, which is run by Age Concern, echoes a popular project which has seen 400 sheds created in Australia to give men, who are often less socially active than their wives, somewhere to go.
Malcolm Bird, the shed co-ordinator, here said: I hadnt heard about the other schemes when I had the idea. It just seemed a good idea to give men somewhere to go and something to do.
Age concern hold lots of classes and groups but the majority of the people, in some cases all the people, who attend are women and it seemed that we were missing a large group of people.
I wondered what happened to all the men, where do they go? It seems that in most cases they were just staying at home and could end up feeling isolated.
There was nothing else like this for them to go to and when we launched the shed we had 200 men through the doors. The whole place was full.
We now have about 35 or 40 men who come quite regularly. We tend to have about eight or ten men at a time and they can do whatever they like, making things, restoring things, doing projects for themselves or sometimes things for the shed, which we can sell to raise funds for the project.
And following its success in Hartford, the Men in Sheds scheme could be set to expand - Malcolm would like to extend into the unit next door and there are proposals for sheds to be created in Crewe, Chester and Ellesmere Port.
The Age Concern office, next door to the shed, has also been inundated with calls from people all over the UK who are keen to create sheds for their communities. Malcolm added: I wasnt really sure what to expect at first. I thought the men would sit around making little wooden toys for their grandchildrens Christmas presents but we have had all sorts of things being made here, chicken coops, dog kennels, work benches, rocking horses, everything.
Some of the men who come here have not done any woodwork since they left school aged 15, while some others have worked in the building industry all their lives, we have a complete mix of men and they can all learn something from each other.
For more information about the scheme call 01606 881660 or visit www.ageconcerncheshire.org.uk