New home and 'collective purpose' for men's shed

Gary Davison, Ellie, Kevin Green and Cllr Alison Webb

From left to right, Gary Davison, Dereham Theatre Company, Ellie from Wellbeing Service, Kevin Green, Dereham Men's Shed and Alison Webb from Breckland District Council. - Credit: Breckland District Council

A social group supporting older men in Dereham has found a permanent home after more than a year of searching

Dereham Men’s Shed had been looking for a space where its members could store their equipment and work on craft projects together, and their search had been made harder by the disruption of the pandemic.

At long last, however, the Men’s Shed has received an offer. In exchange for setting themselves up in the Dereham Theatre Company’s rehearsal facilities, the Shedders, as they are known, will assist with set building for future shows.

Dereham Men's Shed workshop space at Dereham Theatre Company

The new workshop for the Dereham Men's Shed, located in the Dereham Theatre Company's rehearsal facilities. - Credit: Breckland District Council

Members from both organisations have also become the first to take part in a new council-funded training programme aimed at enhancing local mental health support.

Kevin Green, secretary of Dereham Men’s Shed, said: “This is a wonderful outcome, not only do we now have a home, we also now have a collective purpose for our members to get involved with. 

Dereham Theatre Company

Dereham Men's Shed will set up a permanent workshop space in rehearsal facilities at Dereham Theatre Company. - Credit: Noah Vickers

“I enjoyed participating in the Mental Health Community Champions training, which has taught me new skills that I can use within Dereham Men’s Shed and the wider community.”

The newly-trained Community Mental Health Champions from the two organisations will support and signpost local people requiring mental health support and advice. 

The training is part of the new Breckland Mental Health Community Partnership, which is supporting by Breckland District Council (BDC)’s Inspiring Communities programme. 

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The council hopes eventually to recruit 250 Mental Health Community Champions from community organisations and small businesses over the coming two years.

Conservative councillor for Dereham Neatherd Alison Webb, who serves as Breckland's executive member for health and housing

Conservative councillor for Dereham Neatherd, Alison Webb, who serves as Breckland District Council's executive member for health and housing. - Credit: Gary Donnison Photography 2021

Alison Webb, executive member for housing, health and communities at BDC, added: “The coming together of these organisations is exactly the kind of outcome we want to see evolve from our Inspiring Communities programme.

“It is not only about providing education and raising awareness around mental health, but it is also bringing community groups together to share resources and capacity to help residents.”

Gary Davison, Dereham Theatre Company vice-chairman, added: “The council’s Mental Health Community Champions training has been a fantastic way to demonstrate our commitment towards supporting members with mental health needs. 

"On top of that, we are really happy to have been able to provide the Shedders with a space to meet, in return for access to their set-building skills.

“It is a great example of local people coming together for a common good.”