It’s fourth time lucky for a group helping to stamp out isolation in older men, as they finally settle in a place they can call their own.
Members of Men in Sheds project have been forced to relocate three times since it was launched three years ago.
They had been based at Bede’s World in Jarrow but when the venue closed they moved to West Boldon Lodge. But when funding ran out they were rehomed at South Tyneside College.
However, the venue wasn’t suitable and following an appeal in the Gazette, South Tyneside Council stepped forward to offer a unit in Boldon Colliery that they could call their own.
The group, which was started with the support of Age UK South Tyneside, provides a place where men can go to socialise and brush up on their woodwork skills.
Yesterday, they officially opened their new premises at Unit 18 Hutton Street Boldon Colliery, with an open day and visit from the Mayor of South Tyneside Olive Punchion.
It’s great having our own premises now and we are now able to open five days a week.Tom Brownlee
Chairman Tom Brownlee said: “We have been at South Tyneside College for about a year but we could only run the sessions for three hours once a week.
“But by the time we took our tools out to get started, it just ended up as a social gathering as we did’nt have enough time to do any work.
“Then through the Gazette, we appealed for someone to help us to find a more permanent base and the phone never stopped ringing.
“The council came forward with an offer of two and three units and we chose the one in Boldon.
“It’s great having our own premises now and we are now able to open five days a week.
“The council have been really supportive.”
During the official opening the group, which is self-funded, were presented with a cheque from Asda South Shields Community Champion Mavis Maughan.
Mavis said: “We met the group by accident as some of the members were at the Charles Young Centre when we were there.
“They told us they were looking for premises of their own, so we told them to contact us if they found somewhere.
“They applied for some money from Asda Foundation’s Community Interest Fund and we are delighted to be able to hand them a cheque for £500.
“We know they are looking for equipment and they are always looking for new members to get involved.”
Mayor of South Tyneside Olive Punchion said: “I think the group is great, especially for those who are retired and are looking for something to do.
“They have made some fantastic things. They have done really well and they are a great group of people.”
The group is for men and women aged 55 who are interested in woodwork and mechanics, and is aimed to promote wellbeing and social inclusion.
They are currently appealing for donations of equipment and tools for their workshop.
Men in Sheds is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 3pm. For details call Mr Brownlee on 07434 842639.