Calne Men’s Shed received a foundation grant towards the start-up costs for their new community initiative which provides a safe environment for older, isolated people to meet and socialise while learning practical skills.

Men’s Sheds began in Australia 15 years ago but have begun to spring up all over the UK. They are generally aimed at retired men, although not exclusively, and are designed to provide somewhere to meet, share a joke and enjoy companionship while working on craft projects. Principally they tackle the loneliness and isolation that is all too common among retired men who struggle to fill the void left by the daily routine of work.  

Chairman Mike Crawshaw, a retired electronics engineer and one of the four Calne trustees, saw the need for a Shed in the town as soon as he heard an appeal from the Calne Area Board for anyone interested in setting one up. He said “I thought it was a great idea and just what the town needs. Older people often have limited income and cannot afford leisure activities. Once they have finished work they may have downsized so have lost the space to continue with their interests or hobbies. Sadly, some may have lost a partner, are struggling with mental health issues or are just lonely and feel isolated. The Shed provides a welcoming and friendly space where people can come together and access activities in the workshop or just share a coffee and have a chat.

“The project came together really quickly because we have a good mix of skills and some good connections.” One of the trustees, Dave Purton, used a contact at Hills Waste to secure free use of three rooms at the back of its waste sorting plant. The building is leased by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust for its Repair Academy, which restores old domestic appliances. Weeks of hard work saw volunteers clean, paint and equip the rooms to transform them into workshops. Now members, who meet twice a week, use donated and reclaimed wood to build bird boxes and tables, bug sheds, rabbit hutches and other works of craftsmanship. Everything made is either sold to raise funds or donated to fellow community groups.

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