A NEW ‘Men in Sheds’ project started by a South Lakeland charity has generated a great deal of interest.

Age Concern South Lakes has set up a scheme in Kendal to encourage men over 55 to attend its workshop and put their craft skills to good use and help encourage social interaction.

The “Men In Sheds” initiative is one of only three pilot projects in the UK, but it is proving such a success in South Lakeland, that Age Concern is looking to expand.

Since it started in July, the project - which is based at Age Concern’s warehouse in StatIon Yard, Kendal - has seen over 20 users regularly attend. They can work on projects and see the charity benefit.

The scheme’s co-ordinator, John Standing said: “It is a place for men to come and work on projects at their own pace without pressure, which benefits the charity.

“They work on things like repairing donated furniture or making other items and it also brings them together to talk about other problems they may face and we can then help them access other services.

“It works well as you can do as much or as little as you want and it helps pool highly skilled work with novices and everybody learns something too.

One user of the scheme, Colin McDougall, 61, of Endmoor, said: “I have been involved from the start after hearing about it at my local church where I am a handyman.

“I really enjoy having a workshop to work in as well as meeting new people and pooling our skills.”

Another user is Sid Foster. Sid, 76, from Allithwaite attended after hearing about it from his social worker.

“I really enjoy it as it took me a while to get over losing my wife four years ago,” he said.

“I learnt a lot of practical skills from my father and from my time as an engineer in the Royal Navy and now here I can put them to good use and I’ve made a lot of friends.

“We even went on a trip to a similar scheme near Chester last month and it is a fantastic scheme which I’d recommend to anybody.”

Sally Bloomer, business and retail development manager for Age Concern South Lakes, said: “Men over 55 are under represented in South Lakeland in terms of how we interact with them and get our services to them and this is proving to be a very successful and popular scheme.

“We are hoping to expand into other areas of the South Lakes as we realise how difficult it can be to get to Kendal for some people who maybe interested in it.

“We would like to setup new premesis as soon as possible but we are appealing to any businesses who think they may be able to help us in any way.”

If you are interested in finding out more about the Men In Sheds scheme, or if you feel you can help in any way, contact Sally Bloomer on 01539792 023 or pop in to the Kendal Warehouse for an informal chat.