The new Man Shed will offer support to men (and others) by enabling them to work together on practical projects.
The Shed hosts a large workshop with power tools and benches – including a low bench accessible to people in wheelchairs – as well as an area to sit and chat.
The project came about after staff at Princess Alice realised that men were less likely than women to take up offers of support.
Staff wanted to find a new way to reach out to these ‘missing men’ – whether they have experienced bereavement, are caring for a partner or are coming to terms with their own terminal illness.
The idea of the Man Shed is to offer a less formal method of support, allowing men to come together and talk, while working on a practical project.
Princess Alice is the second hospice in the UK with such an initiative; Halton Haven Hospice opened its Men’s Shed in 2014, after being inspired by a similar project in Australia.
Those coming to the Shed can work on their own construction or repair projects or take part in group projects – for example, making new selving to hold all the books on woodworking (and other practical topics), which have been donated to the shed.
With heating and air conditioning, the Shed can be used all year round. And facilitators are on hand to help out with projects and provide guidance on how to use the machinery.
The hospice also plans to use the Shed to offer more informal support to teenagers who have experienced bereavement, and run DIY courses for women who have been widowed and may have relied on their husband to do household maintenance.
Potentially, the workshop could also be used to repair and recondition donated furniture to be sold in the charity’s shops, and to make any repairs to furniture etc at the hospice itself.
John Inverdale officially launched the Man Shed Appeal at the hospice in March 2015, cutting the sod for the new building.
Cutting the ribbon to open the Man Shed this week, he said: “A couple of Marches ago when I was digging out there – on a much nicer day, I have to say – and everyone was saying, ‘We’ll have this done in about a year or so.’ My natural journalistic cynicism was saying, ‘Call it two or three,’ because nothing ever runs to schedule. But, lo and behold: more money raised than anticipated; people getting on with it – and I’m really looking forward to going out there and performing the duty of cutting the ribbon.”
Hospice CEO Nicki Shaw said: “We started the construction around March time and it was really exciting just how quickly it started to gain shape and just how impressive it actually was. We finished the building at the end of April and then since then we’ve been fitting out the inside. Our day hospice patients and craft group have been making soft furnishings for the little ‘snug’ part and it’s now at a point where we’re absolutely thrilled to be officially opening it today.”
Adding: “I’d like to thank everyone who made a donation to help us make the shed a reality but I’d particularly like to thank Surrey County Council for making donations from their Community Improvements Fund and the Members Allocation Fund; the Shanley Foundation; and the Piscatorial Bowling Society. And thank you to Broadgate Estates who made a significant donation towards Man Shed in memory of their friend and colleague, Ian Tapper.”