Men behaving gladly: The Northampton community who fight elderly loneliness by building together

An organisation made of retired handymen want to build their own workshop in Northampton and fight loneliness in the older generation.

Thursday, 15th June 2017, 7:08 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st June 2017, 3:21 pm
The Northampton Men's Sheds team work on a bench.
The Northampton Men's Sheds team work on a bench.

Northampton's Men's Sheds is one of 400 other organisations in the UK as part of a worldwide project to bring communities together.

They meet twice a week in a spare workshop at the Spencer Contact charity in Gladstone Close, off Mill Lane, Spencer, to share tools, talk to friends and build for their communities.

But now they want to take on their biggest project yet.

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The group work out of a workshop at the Spencer Contact charity building in Spencer.

Martin Price, chairman of Northampton Men's Sheds, said: "Men's Sheds is about giving older people purpose and meaning in their lives. It's a place where they can learn skills or put old skills to use, but at its core, it's about engaging with peers.

"We call all the community workshops a Shed, but it doesn't have to be run out of a shed exactly. It's a bit like how a church can refer to both a building and a congregation.

"We've set up one Shed in Spencer, but to really grow as an organisation, we'd like to build a whole new workshop from scratch."

The Men's Shed community is a worldwide project that grew out of Australia, where the scheme was set up to combat loneliness in older men.

The group often reclaim and recycle material for their projects.

Martin first heard of the Men's Sheds on a holiday to Tasmania, where he met a local group.

Martin said: "My friend introduced me to a group of men working on an extension to their Shed building. We got talking and I ended up distracting them from their project for two hours, but in a Shed, nothing is more important than conversation."

When he returned to Northampton, Martin was inspired to establish the town's first community workshop.

Nearly 40% of people aged of 65 in Northampton live alone, according to a Northampton Borough Council report.

A group meeting with the Aylesbury Men's Shed lot.

Martin said: "Loneliness in older people is a serious issue. A simple thing like conversation is simply vital to a person's mental health and wellbeing.

Since it was founded in 2016, Northampton Men's Sheds and its 20 members have all worked together on a range of local projects, like making benches for churches and fitting the showers at the St Andrew's Road night shelter for rough sleepers.

Now, Martin will speak at a full Northampton Borough Council meeting next week (June 19) to raise awareness and find sponsorship for their cause.

Martin said: "If we can expand Northampton Men's Sheds' operation we can include more people and bring them into a community where they can find meaningful work with their peers."

Northampton Men's Sheds have built benches for churches and fitted showers for a homeless shelter.

Northampton Men's Sheds meet on Tuesdays and Fridays between 9am and 1pm at the Spencer Contact charity workshop and is open to anyone aged 18 and over.

The group work out of a workshop at the Spencer Contact charity building in Spencer.
The group often reclaim and recycle material for their projects.
A group meeting with the Aylesbury Men's Shed lot.
Northampton Men's Sheds have built benches for churches and fitted showers for a homeless shelter.