A simple but innovative new project is launching in Ripon to provide an important social lifeline for men who may be on their own, feel isolated by their circumstances, or are simply at a loose end.
Men’s Sheds have proven very successful - and life-changing - in towns and cities across the UK, bringing friendship and purpose for hundreds of men.
The concept is straightforward but extremely powerful - a shed opens up at a chosen location, and in some cases can literally be a garden shed, or a space that just performs the same functions as a shed - and men can meet up, practise skills, and share practical interests together.
Each Men’s Shed has different projects to work on, which are shaped by the people who use it. To gauge the level of interest for establishing a Men’s Shed in Ripon, two public meetings have been organised at Ripon Community House on June 25 - one at 2pm, and another at 7pm.
Ed Moore, who is part of the small community-minded group of residents looking to get it off the ground, said men can find it more difficult to open up about what’s on their minds than women, and hopes that the shed would be a great way of encouraging men to do so in a less daunting forum, where worries come up naturally in conversation while doing something practical and meaningful.
Ed said: “Women who end up on their own tend to have a natural social network around them for support, whereas men often don’t tend to in the same way - and so don’t have as many people to chat to or talk things over with. I think a Men’s Shed could be a really good community resource for Ripon that brings people together.
"And it’s not exclusively for men, either - we want it to be as open as possible. We want to try and give it momentum and spread the word - we want to gauge the appetite for it in Ripon and get it off the ground.”
The Ripon Men’s Shed team are also passionate about challenging stereotypes and societal pressures - Ed said that men can sometimes feel that it’s a sign of weakness to show emotion or open up, rather than a sign of strength.
The shed in Ripon would bring together like-minded people to showcase skills, but also provide a valued space to talk and make friends.
Organisers are keen to see as many interested residents as possible attending the two public meetings - those who would like to go along to the men’s shed, those who would be interested in volunteering to help run it, and people who may be able to help identify or secure a venue for the shed.