A vital community project in Nottinghamshire will continue to run over the cold winter months thanks to donations from construction workers.
The Men in Sheds scheme at Bulwell Community Gardens will be able to keep providing support to isolated members of the community now it has year-round shelter available.
It comes after the charity behind the scheme was offered help by building company Lindum, which is working on a number of projects in the area.
Barbara Bates runs Bulwell Community Gardens and manages a team of 45 volunteers who help maintain the grounds. She also hosts a lunch club every Friday for up to 25 people all ages, which is mainly aimed at elderly or vulnerable people who live isolated lives.
She said: “Like many charities, 2020 was a tough year for us. Not only were we hit by the impact of Covid, forcing many of our Men in Sheds members into isolation, but we were also facing financial pressures after losing our Lottery funding.
“Lindum Group was introduced to us by Nottingham City Council, which had commissioned them to carry out a number of construction jobs around the city. The company very quickly realised the value of the services we provide and asked how it could support us to get back on track.
“After meeting with the team here, Lindum agreed to design, manufacture and install lightweight doors to the three-sided structure to provide shelter during colder months. They also supplied labour and materials for a concrete foundation so they could erect steel sheds that we could use for storing tools and materials.
“In addition, Lindum adapted our temporary building so we could harvest rainwater for watering plants and they fitted four new benches around the gardens. Many of our members struggle with their mental health and live quite lonely lives. Socialising at the gardens has a huge benefit to their overall wellness.
“Lindum’s work provided a sheltered space so our members – many of whom are elderly – could still come to the gardens in the winter and be involved in community activities.”
Construction company Lindum, based in North Hykeham near Lincoln, has completed over 40 jobs in Nottinghamshire in the past three years. Many have been for local councils and have been procured through the Scape Regional Construction framework.
Lindum framework manager Matthew Jones said: “We try to be good neighbours and give back to the communities in which we work. When we were told about Men in Sheds, we saw straight away what a valuable service it provides.
“We were pleased to be able to provide materials and labour to improve the facilities at the gardens so they could keep offering support as we head into the colder months.”
Steve Lack, Community Health Officer for Rebalancing the Outer Estates which funds the scheme, said: “I really like the design of the shelter front. This will be a ‘real’ asset to our Men in Sheds group, as it now provides us with the ability to use the shelter without the blokes getting soaked in the event of rain.
“This will really help as it can be off putting for many, not only standing in the rain but trying to work in it. We are now managing to meet again as a group and the vulnerability of some means that it is not advisable for them to be out in the rain for a few hours – the front will also act as a barrier to the wind so helps prevent discomfort to the guys bought on by cold. This is a factor for many who whilst experiencing mental health issues often have physical limitations which we have to try and address. The shelter front enables us to plan our winter provision better – previously we have had to close for a number of weeks due to weather.”
Gemma Poulter, Head of Integration, Adult Social Care, Nottingham City Council, added: “The covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the social isolation that many people experience and made this very visible. Projects, like the Bulwell Gardens-Men in Sheds resource, play an important role in enabling improved health and wellbeing for people who live in our City and enable our communities to thrive.”