Kevin Prosser, 54, is organising a branch of Men’s Shed, an international movement that gives people a chance to learn and share traditional skills such as carpentry and furniture repair. It will open in a workshop at St John’s Church Hall, Whitbourne Avenue. Kevin is married to Dawn, who is Social Action Co-ordinator at the church they both attend, Gateway. The couple live in Swindon

MEN’S Shed was founded in Australia in 1998 and came to the UK in 2009.

There are 432 in this country, with a further 118 in development.

The founding aim was to help men – mainly aged over 50 – who lacked the opportunities or confidence to be creative and productive.

That still holds true, although anybody interested in taking part, whether to share skills, learn them, or both, is welcome to do so.

The new Swindon branch is run under the umbrella of Swindon Christian Community Projects, the organisation behind, among other initiatives, the foodbank.

Kevin Prosser said: “The concept is mainly aimed at avoiding loneliness in older people, to promote health and wellbeing for men – which is in the news at the moment – and to promote people’s wellbeing and create a community for those people who might have skills and may not be using them.

“They may be able to use those skills to help other people while participating in something creative and productive.

“The idea is that people who are out there and maybe struggling with their lives – perhaps they’ve retired and don’t know what to do – can find a Men’s Shed to share and participate in.

“They can come to a project which has tools and different bits and pieces to upcycle – that sort of thing.

“Men’s Sheds are of various shapes and sizes. Some do metalwork, some do woodwork, some do all kinds of crafts from playing the guitar to watercolour painting.”

Much of the focus at the new one will be on making, repairing and restoring furniture. Members will pay a small monthly fee.

“We want to take in furniture and upcycle it,” said Kevin.

The group will open a shop in in Victoria Road, Old Town, in November to sell the things they have created and repaired, and provide additional workshops in skills such as painting and upholstery.

Organisers hope to hear from plumbers able to provide sanitary ware including a toilet, and they also need donations of timber for the fittings and floor.

Kevin, the son of a plater-welder and a seamstress, is originally from the Stroud area but has lived in Swindon since 1995.

A Christian since 1987, he joined what is now the Gateway Church shortly after arriving, and has worked on various church and community projects ever since.

His career has seen him work as an engineer, a woollen mill worker, in gardening, in property maintenance and latterly for the Bible Society in its Swindon warehouse.

Kevin has long been a great believer that many old skills are worthy of preservation and passing on, even though they may these days be needed more in the home than at work. “Years ago it was very much that you had to possess the skills,” he said.

“My father could turn his hands to most things, and quite well.

“I think some of those skills have gone because of industry – the industry has gone, so they are no longer needed. There’s also value; whether we value those skills today.

“Some of those skills out there are still very useful in creating stuff.”

He was critical of He believes other factors in the decline of our ability to make and repair things include the rise of the disposable society, as manufacturers compete to make their wares as cheap as possible.

“They make it fast, make it available, but the amount of waste is probably not that helpful to the environment,” he said.

“Also, manufacturers have to gear what they make toward their clientele. They have to make it affordable and they have to make it appealing. I think it comes back, again, to what we value.

“In the past, people would probably have bought their furniture from new and it would have stayed with them for most of their lives. They wouldn’t really look at changing it. They wouldn’t think, ‘That’s going to be changed in a few years because it’s going to fall apart.’

“The furniture would be an investment. Granny’s sideboard was always there from the day when I first met with it, and it was there thereafter.

“It was part of who they were, part of that generation. It was their longevity, their values. We’ve lost that today, in lots of ways.”

He aims to help as many people as possible to discover or rediscover the joy of making and repairing.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing to be able to create something from raw material. You appreciate what you’re able to make,” he said.

“It gives it an extra value as well – you’ve invested time and thought and skill.

“You watch other people doing these things and you think, ‘I really appreciate what they’ve done.

“How did they do that? How did they turn those materials into something that looks like this now?’

“It’s being able to give things that extra lease of life, being able to make them useful again.

“I think that’s the concept of Men’s Sheds. People might not have found anywhere to go before, but they can come to Men’s Shed and do something creative.“There’s nothing better than to look at an item when you’ve created it and think, ‘I created that,’ but then you always pick up the faults.

“But that thing came from you. You put in that thought. You put something of yourself into it when you create an item.”

“We were made to be creative in whatever area that might be for us.”

Kevin can be reached on 07540 726432.