A Bexley charity rescuing older men from loneliness is set to expand its programme across the borough with new funding.
City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable arm, has awarded Age UK Bexley £90,300 for its Men in Sheds programme. The initiative brings older men together through creative woodwork workshops where they can share ideas and learn new skills.
The workshops operate as a social enterprise making products for sale and providing a space to make friends and stay active. Money from the products goes towards paying for raw materials and running costs for the scheme.
The City Bridge Trust funding will expand the programme in areas with high rates of social isolation and loneliness. It will pay for more temporary ‘sheds’ which can be easily moved around the borough providing workspaces where the men can create products like bird and bat boxes in sociable group workshops.
Each new ‘shed’ and workshop will be supported by trained volunteers, using existing community spaces, in partnership with other local organisations to reach as wide an audience as possible.
Alison Gowman, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, told Charity Today:
“This programme is an opportunity for men who may have little contact with the outside world to socialise, have fun and create something of their own.
“Men in Sheds has proven very successful over the last few years. The obvious next step is expansion and we are proud to be able to help Age UK Bexley ensure more people in the community can get involved.
“City Bridge Trust is committed to making London a fairer place to work and live.”
Guy Stevenson, CEO of Age UK Bexley, added:
“The support from City Bridge Trust will be critical for the charity in helping build the membership, governance and long term financial sustainability of Age UK Bexley’s Men in Sheds programme. The sheds offer men the opportunity to maintain motor skills and cognitive ability whilst sharing a common social purpose and continued economic identity.
“More importantly though it gives men somewhere to get together, to talk, to share their experiences of ageing and reduce their sense of social isolation and loneliness, particularly when a major event in their lives may have changed their view of their world and the people in it.”
Age UK Bexley’s mission is to improve the quality of life for older people in the London Borough of Bexley by providing information, services and support.
City Bridge Trust is the funding arm of the City of London Corporation’s charity, Bridge House Estates. It is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of £20 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital.
The Trust has awarded around 7,900 grants totalling over £390 million since it first began in 1995. It helps achieve the City Corporation’s aim of changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.