Men's shed's hunt for new home as pandemic heightens loneliness
- Credit: Dereham Men's Shed
A social group for older men is searching for a workshop space in which to hold its meetings, as it faces up to a crisis of loneliness exacerbated by the pandemic.
Dereham Men’s Shed, established in December 2017, meets once a week for a cup of tea and a chat, and to share skills and ideas.
Secretary Kevin Green, 64, said that the group, which has now 28 members, had met at the annexe of Dereham Baptist Church before the coronavirus pandemic, but had not been able to use the space to make crafts together.
“You can’t take heavy machinery in there,” said Mr Green, “and that’s been our problem. If you’re going to be making big articles, you need somewhere you can make a mess, essentially.”
The group, which became a registered charity this year, has met in a variety of locations since the pandemic, from Dereham Windmill in the summer to Toftwood Social Club in the autumn.
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“In an ideal world, there’d be a space where we could have a workshop, but also have an area we could sit round and talk,” said Mr Green.
“There are some guys who do want to make stuff, but there are others who are quite happy just talking and having a cup of coffee."
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Mr Green said that the problem of loneliness among older men had worsened during the pandemic.
“One of the guys, when I was speaking to him on the phone, said ‘look, I’m just lonely'," he said.
“When somebody says that to you, the hairs on the back of your neck stand up… And you can hear it in his voice.
“So it’s just about getting together and talking. It’s not going to fix everything for them, but it’s something, maybe just to get out at least once a week.”
He added: "It’s not all serious - that’s the other thing. It’s there for enjoyment, and companionship.”
Anyone who thinks they can provide the Men’s Shed with a workshop space should get in touch with Kevin Green at firstname.lastname@example.org