Men’s Sheds project officially opens in Bognor

Secretary Zak Thomas. Picture contributed
Secretary Zak Thomas. Picture contributed

A national project which provides a ‘safe and secure environment’ for men to talk and share practical skills officially opened in Bognor today (Tuesday).

In conjunction with West Sussex County Council, Men’s Sheds is run at 1A Dickinson Place, Durban Road to provide men a ‘good space away from home’. Read more here.

Terry Everest, Adam Bell (Bognor Bike Community CIC), John Steed, Jimbo Torrent, Dave Picton, Zak Thomas

Terry Everest, Adam Bell (Bognor Bike Community CIC), John Steed, Jimbo Torrent, Dave Picton, Zak Thomas

Directors from local community interest companies Danny Dawes, from Grandads front Room, Mel Twinley from Harmony Hive CIC and Adam Bell from the Bognor Bike Community CIC have collaborated together to help form a committee along with painter and decorator Jim Torrent (chairman) and professional carpenter Zak Thomas (company secretary). There are also ex military members on the committee including Falklands war veteran, Terry Everest.

Mel Twinley said the scheme is about ‘tackling loneliness and isolation in men and particularly those of retirement age’.

She added: “We are delighted to launch the new Bognor Regis Men’s Shed.

“We aim to be looking out for the well being of men (and women) in the community by offering them somewhere unique to go to make, mend and build friendships.

“It all started when I came down to ask if they could fix a coffee table and I ended up helping them run the project.”

Jo Cooke, from the West Sussex County Council partnerships and communities team, said it is a ‘fantastic opportunity to bring the community together’.

She added: “We have been supporting various community sheds around the county and are really excited that there is one up and running in Bognor now.

“It helps increase confidence and emotional and mental wellbeing, whilst it’s an opportunity to learn new skills and socialise. We’ve seen some fantastic results in other parts of the county.”

Zak Thomas said the project is about ‘helping out the local community’.

He said: “We are a workshop that do community projects to make and fix things and combat loneliness or mental illness.”

Treasurer Adam Bell said the project is ‘very important’.

“The whole idea is to get people out and reduce social isolation as well as building the community. It’s about people helping people,” he added.

Craig Pinkney runs a community DIG IT project which works with allotments around the town and in conjunction with Bognor Regis Men’s Shed ‘to offer shedders a special allotment space and the chance to do gardening’.

He said: “It’s a really important scheme they’ve got going here where people can get together in our community from all walks of life.

“It’s about them coming together, sharing their knowledge, bringing it all together and doing something productive. It helps in a lot of different ways.

“It offers a safe space for men to come and socialise. We are also want the shed to appeal to young people to bridge the learning and generation gap.”

Peter Day, who has signed up as a member, said: “The concept originated in Australia. It is very important. I used to be a member at the Southbourne shed but I live in Bognor so it is great that this one opened as it is easier to get to.

“It just allows guys to come and fix/build things or just to socialise and have a chat with a coffee. This one is particularly good as they have ladies as well.”

The project runs three mornings a week, offering three evening sessions for men and women from April 2019.

Mel said the future aim is to become a community shed offering more groups, classes and sessions for mixed groups, women and older children.

“Men’s Sheds will be open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10 - 1pm. Annual membership is just £20 to join plus £1 extra per session to help with running costs.

“We got 22 members signing up today with more pledging to join next month when we launch our evening sessions.

“We will be relying on local community support and volunteers to help reach our goals and will be reaching out to local businesses to help with the supply of timber, woodwork materials and tools.”

Come back to our website tomorrow and pick up the paper on Thursday for more pictures from today’s open day.