ARE you a man living in Middlesbrough with time on your hands?

Then come and get your hands dirty at the brand new Middlesbrough Men’s Shed! The aim of the new ‘Shed’ is to provide a place and the support required for Middlesbrough men of all ages and backgrounds who wish to pursue practical interests, learn or share skills and support worthwhile local causes.

Middlesbrough Men’s Shed will meet on a Tuesday morning from 10am – 12pm at Berwick Hills Community Allotment site on Bradhope Road, Middlesbrough (TS3 7BG). The pilot is led by Groundwork North East and Cumbria, but was developed in partnership with Ageing Better Middlesbrough and Public Health Middlesbrough.

The outdoor activities that take place at the ‘Shed’ sessions will be led by the desires and skills of the participants, who will be encouraged to develop their own ideas for growing activities, construction or maintenance projects that can be undertaken on the community allotment site.

Projects might enhance the allotment or the surrounding area, or may even bring a little money back into the coffers of the project through the sale of items made.

Participants are encouraged to bring their skills and knowledge to the table, sharing these with others and hopefully developing new friendships and new skills along the way.

The sessions will however be facilitated by Groundwork staff members, who will be there to support and help secure the resources and tools needed to hopefully make the ‘Shedders’ project ideas a reality. In addition local experts may be brought in to demonstrate crafts such as green woodworking or metalworking using a mobile forge.

Sarah Marrison, Senior Project Officer at Groundwork, said: “We like to think of our Shed as an extension of a normal man’s shed at home.

“It can be a place of solace to pursue hobbies, but our Shed can also be a place of company; a place to meet like-minded people and do something constructive with your free time whilst getting out in the fresh air.”

The pilot project has been lucky to receive funding from a number of sources including Ageing Better Middlesbrough, Public Health Middlesbrough, Thirteen Group, Tesco ‘Bags of Help’, One Stop ‘Carriers for Causes’ and Northumbrian Water.

John Atkinson, Community Action Officer for Ageing Better Middlesbrough, said: “Ageing Better Middlesbrough is pleased to work with Groundwork NE and Cumbria to develop some really good places for men to spend time making, mending, talking, doing and just being somewhere out of the house where there are other men to knock about with.

“I am sure the Middlesbrough Men’s Sheds are going to be popular places in Middlesbrough, helping men to lead active, happy and healthy lives and making sure Middlesbrough men feel useful.”

“Public Health recognises the importance of promoting men’s health, preventing illnesses and ensuring men can develop skills as well as put existing skills to use in their own communities,” said Richie Andrew, Health Improvement Officer for Middlesbrough.

“We hope the Men’s Shed will help with all of these elements, enabling those males who participate to be more active, talk about their issues and get health problems sorted out sooner as well as make a few new pals on the journey as well.”