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New Milton Men's Shed group get to work finding new home

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THE team behind a New Milton community project aimed at reducing loneliness and isolation among older men are hoping to find a suitable site to set up a base.

Despite only forming last September the thriving New Milton Men’s Shed group already boasts around 30 members who meet on Fridays at Fawcetts Field sports ground.

However, the group is desperate to find local premises that can become a permanent home, enabling them to undertake DIY projects, voluntary work for other community groups and remain open for use at all times of the day.

Group social secretary Danny Roberts told the A&T: “We are incredibly proud of how far we have come in just a few months but the real challenge for us now is to find a permanent base.

"We have a wealth of skills and experience amongst our group members – it’s just a little frustrating that we are struggling to find somewhere we can call our own.”

Ideally the group would like to find an unused building such as a large shed, Portakabin or outdoor building within the New Milton area as several members do not have transport.

The shed ideally needs to be at least 20 x 20 feet, and be close to amenities with parking on or near the site.

The concept of Men’s Shed has been gaining momentum; in the last few years they have been springing up around the country, including one in Fawley which opened in November last year.

The idea is to create a building which allows men to pop in at any time of the day for a chat, to share skills, be creative and in many cases, help out with wider community projects.

They are not affiliated to any political or religious organisations and their buildings are alcohol free zones. Ideally the New Milton team would like to find a secure building or piece of land which they could build on and lay services to which would be paid for by users.

Danny said: “Men’s Shed exists to provide a place to pursue practical interests at leisure, to practise skills and enjoy making and mending. It’s about social connections and friendship building, sharing skills and knowledge, and of course a lot of laughter.

“Activities in sheds vary greatly, but you can usually find woodworking, metalworking, repairing and restoring, electronics, model buildings or even car building in a typical shed.”

The idea is that by giving men a place to meet up regularly, the facilities also promote social inclusion.

Danny added: “We have some members who come along who have been recently bereaved, and for them it has become a real lifeline already.

“Men typically find it more difficult to build social connections than women, and unlike women of a similar age, fewer older men have networks of friends and rarely share personal concerns about health and personal worries.

"It is not the case for all men, but for some, when retirement comes, it can feel like personal identity and purpose is lost. Men’s Shed can help change that.”

The group has already committed to undertake a volunteer project to redecorate the interior of the New Milton Army Cadets hut at Ashley Junior School, and there are also plans to undertake projects for the Sway based art therapy charity hArt, and the local dementia group.

Mr Roberts continued: “Many of our members are very keen and willing to use their skills to benefit the community. We have a workforce ready and waiting and if we could find a suitable base, it would really help us to progress.”

The group currently meets on a social basis every week at Fawcetts Field from 12.30pm to 2.30pm on Fridays.

Anyone who would like more information on the group or who could suggest suitable premises can contact Danny on 07757 637210 or email dkrob1949@hotmail.com

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