An idea for a ‘Men’s Shed’ for the Tenby area which gives males the opportunity to form friendships and combat isolation and loneliness has been touted.
Men2men is a new Hywel Dda Health Board seed funded unique service for men, led by men, to help engage males around Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigionshire to set up small, activity groups to draw in local men, as there is concern around what is going on for men in relation to mental health.
Such shared activities can be fun and enable men to connect with others, generating a sense of belonging, fellowship and a space in which they may feel comfortable to talk about how they really are. This contact for men, particularly those more isolated during the lockdown has proved to be crucial.
Pembrokeshire’s Luke Conlon who is part of the Men2Men network that has been set up recently met with members of Tenby town council to discuss the idea of setting up a Men’s Shed for the locality.
“We are looking for men to volunteer with us to develop opportunities for men to meet and form friendships and combat isolation and loneliness being experienced by us men, together,” Luke told the Observer.
“Through walking groups, photography, wood turning, cooking…etc, anything men want to develop to bring men together in the spirit of friendship.
“The development of a Men’s Shed in Tenby will be an example of men sharing skills and making things together in a space that’s owned by the men.”
When discussing the idea with Tenby’s Mayor and fellow councillors via a zoom meeting last month, Luke said that recent figures indicate that suicide in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion are amongst the highest rates in all of Wales.
“There is an awareness of how difficult it is for men but there are concerns over the lack of opportunity for men to come out and talk to each other,” he explained.
“A fledgling group to support men in seeking to engage with others to develop friendship opportunities and support groups had been set up and progress is being made. A grant had been received from Hywel Dda UHB which is quite unusual as there is no men’s health policy in Wales,” he told councillors.
“This about engaging men, to share ideas within groups, of all sorts. There are around 20 men from west Wales as volunteer champions to set up initiatives around communities giving an opportunity to talk and listen to each other and how to grow. There are women taking part in these groups also.
“In the second half of life ageing is also difficult for men, particularly as they are more prone to heart problems and health issues.”
The Men’s Shed movement started in Australia in the 1990s as it was found that men in particular lose a lot of friendship networks once retired and then often encounter serious health issues due to the loss of friendship.
The initiative came to the UK about 8 years ago and there are now around 25 ‘sheds’ around Wales.
“Men do not do well just sitting in a circle talking but if you were to place a broken chainsaw in the middle of the group, this gets them talking and solving problems,” continued Luke.
“It has been found that MenSheds provide benefits to the community and some of the biggest supporters are women, they understand that men need a space to engage with men other than a bar!
“The idea is not to start too big. Once through Covid-19, we do not know how things will be for men. We may enter a big recession, working men in their 50s and 60s who could potentially lose the chance to work, will lose confidence and benefit from this facility,” added Luke.
Tenby’s Deputy Mayor, Clr. Mrs. Tracey Evans said she felt it was an ‘absolutely brilliant’ idea and could see why this was aimed at men who traditionally find it difficult to talk, and she said she would support it 100 per cent.
Clr. Mrs. Christine Brown reminded councillors that in Tenby there was a Probus Club which was for retired men, but that there was definitely room for something more.
The Mayor, Clr. Mrs. Sam Skyrme-Blackhall remarked that this was a ‘very positive’ initiative for the town, and that there is and will be a big need for this, and that both men and women would benefit from this in the community.
Anyone with any ideas or who might want to get involved with a Men’s Shed for Tenby, can contact Luke Conlan on 0790 886 0061 or via email at: [email protected]
You can also check out the website: www.men2men.org.uk for further details.