Woodwork and gardening helping to tackle isolation

1st November 2021

Men in Shed’s in Carlisle is delivered by Restore Cumbria and started out two years ago as a space for isolated men to get together and talk about mental health. It aims to empower those who have been disadvantaged or faced social exclusion due to crime, alcohol addiction, substance abuse, poor mental or physical health and unemployment.

The community allotment, on Mount Pleasant Road, is closely linked with the Men in Sheds group. The projects received £4,913 from the Pappagallino Fund to contribute towards the project coordinators salary for two hours per week, along with materials, tools, and seeds.

“We have people who struggle with addiction and mental health,” said Chris Harwood, who helps run Men Sheds. “We are transforming part of the allotment site using upcycled items that would otherwise end up in landfill. The food we grow we share with our friends on low incomes.”

Restore offers help to people who are struggling financially or socially and is well placed to respond to the increasing demand for low cost, good quality pre-owned goods as more people find themselves suffering financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.

The projects offer something different for anyone who wants to join in. Chris added: “A lot of people get lost in their project and others have described it as a kind of mindfulness in the sense that when you’re working on something, you can momentarily be taken out of your circumstances and just focus on what’s in front of you.”

The project makes products and contributes to maintenance work in the community, which adds an extra therapeutic element to it, and as a joint initiative, Restore started ‘Feed our community’ to develop unused spaces and repurpose them for food growing, skill sharing and community building.

Chris said: “People like that idea that they’re there to help others and through helping others you can end up helping yourself.