A new initiative offering informal bereavement support to men in Weston-super-Mare and surrounding areas has been launched – in a shed.

Weston Hospicecare’s new Men In Sheds project is now up and running, and aims to offer informal support to a traditionally hard-to-reach demographic, as research has shown bereaved men are often uncomfortable with more typical methods such as counselling.

The idea is that men of any age can take advantage of a welcoming, enjoyable and safe space to meet and enjoy a range of social interests, make new friends and work at their own pace on projects of their choice.

Activities on offer will be shaped by those who take part, and could range from woodwork and gardening, to art and modelling, and to old film screenings and music appreciation.

Men In Sheds is run by three volunteers – Wayne, Philip and Chris (pictured) – who are keen to ensure participants can decide how they want to use the time.

Chris said: “The idea behind Men In Sheds is a really clever one, because men can find it hard to talk about their feelings, so the idea is that they will be fiddling with something or occupied with an activity, and then the words just come out.

“But it’s a question of learning what people want from it. We want it to be flexible so people can take out of it what they want – so we hope people will just come along and have a cup of tea and a chat and it can build from there.”

Men In Sheds originated in Australia in the 1990s, but there are now 439 such sheds operating around the UK.

It is hoped men across the Weston and Somerset area will take the opportunity to get involved, as social isolation – particularly for widowers – can leave people at risk of poor physical and mental health, higher risk of disability, poor recovery from illness and early death.

‘Shedders’ can expect to make new friends, pick up new skills, put practical talents to good use, and experience the camaraderie of working with others.

Weston Hospicecare’s Director of Patient Services, John Bailey, said: “Men In Sheds is a chance for bereaved men to come together to share experiences, ideas and enthusiasm, and ultimately, to help each other through the loss of a spouse, friend or family member.

“The group meets in a big garden shed in the hospice grounds – the ultimate place for leisure, pottering or tinkering.

“You can use the opportunity to pursue practical interests and projects, either as a group or on your own. If you’d prefer, you can simply have a cup of tea and a chat with someone who knows exactly how your life has changed since your loss.

“The group is what you want it to be, and nothing has to be rushed. Make the most of the safe, friendly and inclusive environment offered by the hospice to help you with your grief.”

Men In Sheds will meet from 10am to noon every Tuesday and Thursday at Weston Hospicecare headquarters in Thornbury Road in Uphill.

To find out more about the initiative, head along to one of the sessions, or call the hospice on 01934 423900.

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