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Loneliness, isolation and rising suicide rates inspire £300,000 community 'Shed' project

PUBLISHED: 15:54 03 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:02 03 December 2019

Lighthouse Church community pastor Dan Ward at work in the new Sheringham Shed, which will provide social and practical opportunities for loal adults.
Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Lighthouse Church community pastor Dan Ward at work in the new Sheringham Shed, which will provide social and practical opportunities for loal adults. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

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A new facility offering activities ranging from DIY to darts is set to open in Sheringham next month, as part of a £315,000 project aimed at tackling loneliness, isolation and mental health problems.

The new Sheringham Shed, in Wyndham Street, will provide social and practical opportunities for loal adults.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLThe new Sheringham Shed, in Wyndham Street, will provide social and practical opportunities for loal adults. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Run by the Lighthouse Community Church charity trust and funded by grants and donations, Sheringham Shed will be housed in the town's former St John Ambulance hall, which was bought by the Cromer Road Church 18 months ago.

Lighthouse community pastor Rev Dan Ward, who is managing the project, said the idea for the facility was inspired by the international Men's Shed movement, which aims to improve men's health and wellbeing by giving them an opportunity to build friendships while learning practical skills.

However, realising there was also a need for women to access similar support, project leaders decided to open the facility to anyone over 18.

"I think loneliness and isolation are big issues in Sheringham and, what really fired my interest was the rising suicide rates among men and the cuts to services," he explained. "I know people personally who have struggled and when a friend found himself in hospital with mental health issues, it was a real wake-up call."

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Mr Ward and a team of volunteers have worked tirelessly to renovate the run-down building, replacing the roof and refurbishing the interior, which now includes new heating, lighting, toilets and flooring, as well as a lift and CCTV system.

On target to open at the beginning of next year, the Shed will have a downstairs workshop with kitchen, as well as a flexible upstairs space with offices, computer room and tea station.

Classes and activities on offer will range from woodwork and arts and crafts, to games, movie nights and indoor crazy golf.

"Whether people are retired, unemployed or suffering from low self-esteem or mental ill health, we want to be able to offer them a chance to do something practical, but in a social context," Mr Ward said. "Often people are longing to make that connection and this will give them an opportunity to build relationships."

The Sheringham Shed team would be pleased to hear from people with practical skills willing to share their expertise. They would also be grateful for any donations of kitchen units or worktops.

For more information, phone 01263 824020 or email: sheringhamshed@gmail.com

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