Why would men need helping?
In a rural area like East Devon, it's easy as men get older for them to feel lonely, isolated, and excluded from life around them. Some may live on their own, may have lost their lifelong partner, may live with a partner or family member who they have to care for. Some may just have lost their sense of purpose in life after retiring from work. Having somewhere that they can go to regularly and where they can meet other men, have a friendly chat and a cuppa, make something useful or repair something that matters to someone, can make a great difference to a man's life, to his mental health and also to his physical health. We live in one of the most beautiful areas in the UK - Beer has even been voted English "village of the year" - but if you feel that you're locked indoors, or that you're duty-bound always to stay at home and look after your partner, you can only too easily find yourself in a downward spiral that you don't feel that you can get out of - not on your own.
Taking on the challenge
So some of us older chaps in Beer got together and decided to do something about this, because the towns and villages in East Devon have strong spirits of community and of helping each other. In March 2019 "Beer Men's Shed" was formally consituted as a group to organise a workshop environment for men from Beer and the local towns and villages. By April 2019 we were already in operation, meeting and working together by sharing the use of our own workshops and garages, and in May 2019 we completed our first commission - making 50 dormouse nesting boxes for the Countryside team of East Devon District Council.
Now we have a growing list of commissions in our pipeline - making a village notice board for the Parish Council, carving a name sign for one of the cottages in the village, making a wooden planter for flowers in the main street to help the village win another "Britain in Bloom" award.
Getting men involved across the area
And we have more men taking part, not just from Beer but from Seaton and Axminster as well. This is what our group is really about - getting men out and meeting up and achieving things, and feeling healthier and happier with their lives. The work that we do is a means to that end, and not an end in itself.
What do we need money for?
We've been using our own DIY tools and sharing our garages and sheds to do projects, but to enable more men to join in we need more space for them to meet and work in safely, and more tools for them to use so that they can do bigger and better projects. Our local village hall - Mariners' Hall in Beer - has now agreed that we can use a site in the centre of Beer village for our first workshop, and so now we need to raise money to buy and build a shed there. And we need to raise money to buy the tools - new or used - that will help more men to get actively involved in Beer Men's Shed.
Help us to help men have happier and healthier lives
We are approaching as many funding sources as possible to try to reach our target of having a new workshop building and the tools inside it by the end of Summer 2019. Our local charity project, Beer Bag Group, was the first to give a donation on behalf of Beer. Devon County Council has come in to give us support as well. And local people are donating to help Beer Men's Shed to happen. We'd like anyone to help us who believes that what we are trying to achieve is for the good. And if you just want to join in the work of Beer Men's Shed - come on in! The door is open!
You can find out more about Beer Men's Shed at www.beermensshed.uk