Shed project nominated for award
Medway Men in Sheds is an accredited mental wellbeing service with widely reaching aims:
The defence against ‘low level’ mental health issues developing further
Advocacy in mental wellbeing thus decreasing social isolation
The prevention in suicide by decreasing the risk in higher risk groups
The Medway project, which has been nominated for the Kent Mental Wellbeing Awards, is delivered from two different locations, one being a refurbished shipping container being utilised as a workshop behind the Sunlight Centre in Gillingham, full of an array of restored and unwanted tools. The other site is a stunning, communal garden in Ottway Street, Gillingham. The garden which was once a location linked to anti-social behaviour is now a haven for the local community, thanks to the Shedders from Medway Men in Sheds.
Established in 2014, the project has continuously conveyed the idea of working together and everyone having an equal voice when it comes to ruling of decisions, alongside the project’s employed co-ordinator Chris White.
Medway Men in Sheds is currently made up of 89 active ‘Shedders’ and has many more associated with the scheme through social media and past members. Each one of these Shedders has an individual skill set to bring to the project and share their experiences and skills with each other to make the project thrive even more so.
This supports the project’s aim for promoting mental wellbeing, as it has given many of its members a renewed sense of purpose and meaning, particularly for those that have been dealing with physical or mental health issues. Not only has the service provided its members with practical skills, it has also produced conversation on signposting, mutual support and health promotion in areas such as diabetes or bereavement.
Not only does the project have a positive impact on those involved, but it has a great impact on the wider community too. Medway Men in Sheds operates on a ‘reuse, rebuild and recycle’ mantra, helping to reduce the amount that goes to landfill and give back to society. The current task being carried out under this idea is an aged, saved arcade machine, with the Shedders working together to figure out what is needed to get the item back into working order.
This camaraderie does wonders for the wellbeing of many members, whilst also decreasing the isolation many people face in society today. Alongside the current project on the arcade machine, the Shedders also help the wider community with numerous ventures, whether that be producing a bird box, raised flower beds or small furniture repairs amongst many other tasks.
The scheme has had obstacles to overcome and the Coronavirus Pandemic was no exception. It was something that faced the majority of people with challenges to overcome and this was no exception for Medway Men in Sheds. During this time, the project still supported its members and assisted them in overcoming their anxieties and enabling them to go back to face-to-face interactions. As well as this, in 2022, the Sunlight Development Trust Team had a considerable shift in roles with CEO and Service Manager leaving to go on to different roles. Despite this, the trustees of the project pulled together and took on work on top of what they already had to make sure Medway Men In Sheds ran as smoothly as possible for its members despite all the changes that were happening.
This highlights how the scheme achieves to combat social isolation, by ensuring that nobody is left to feel alone or their mental wellbeing is forgotten about, even when facing barriers, demonstrating just how important the aims of the project are to its members.
Last year, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, Tracey Crouch visited Medway Men In Sheds and took part in woodcraft and said “I cannot think of a more worthy cause to support men in order to combat loneliness and improve mental health” which is countlessly demonstrated by the Shedders by looking out not only for their fellow members but also the wider community, to make sure everyone’s mental wellbeing is thought of and cared about. This shows why Medway Men In Sheds deserves to be nominated for the 2023 Kent Mental Wellbeing Awards.
The awards are organised by the mental health charity Mind in Bexley and East Kent and are supported by a range of organisations in the sector.
To submit a nomination visit www.kentmentalwellbeingawards.org.uk