AS far as Kevin Prosser is concerned, the work of the Swindon Men’s Shed is as vital as it is straightforward.

“We like to think we’re a friendly and supportive environment for people to come along to and engage.

“People can connect, learn new skills, share knowledge and give their own experience to others.

“It’s men coming together to do some stuff or learn some stuff or create some stuff.”

Kevin has run the shed since it began in 2017 under the umbrella of a different organisation, Restore. The Swindon presence, known as Renew, is independent.

Men connect over woodwork and other crafts, making furniture, puzzles, games, garden planters, hedgehog boxes and a wealth of other objects.

Work also includes recycling, repair, upholstery and repurposing pallet wood.

Members are drawn from a broad range of circumstances, but what all have in common is a need to bond and find contentment. There are as many reasons for this as there are men in the 500 or so sheds across the country and in the thousands across the world. Some, for example, find themselves at a loose end and in need of purpose following retirement. Others seek a satisfying counterbalance to the stresses, frustrations and – in many instances – isolation of modern working life.

Kevin said: “There are a lot of men out there who are finding life not easy.

“We offer that opportunity to come somewhere that’s friendly, and where they can learn some skills and mix with others. One guy told me that the best things were being able to make friends and be creative.

“People are suffering in different ways because of different things. Modern life has created its own issues for us. We’re more aware but less aware in many ways.

“Everybody seems to feel that somebody out there has a better life – they broadcast it on social media! It has an effect on our mental wellbeing.”

Initially based at Park South, the shed moved to shop premises in Old Town and then to its current base in Cheney Manor. Kevin would like to see the shed expand its operations, liaising more with other organisations and finding another location to display and sell its wares.

Additional support would enable the shed to offer places to people unable to afford the modest monthly fee.

“Members are from all ages and backgrounds. Some are retired and some are working. Some might need the shed because their lives took a different course to the one they were expecting.”

Kevin is originally from the Stroud area but has lived in Swindon for nearly 25 years.

He has worked in a woollen mill, as an engineer, in property maintenance, in gardening and at the Bible Society’s Swindon warehouse. He has worked on many community projects over the years.

Kevin insists the skills needed to make and repair things are as vital as they have always been, even though many of them tend to be needed in the home rather than our increasingly mechanised workplaces.

He first heard about the Men’s Shed movement, which began in Australia, at a conference devoted to recycling.

“The upshot was that I started this shed. Somebody asked whether I would be able to use the model in what was then Restore. I could see it working in this area”

Kevin believes one of the key attractions for members is the stress-free working environment. Although he manages the project, he is their helper.

“If you go wrong, just rub it down a bit more and take a bit more off! You’re here – take your time and enjoy it. Just enjoy making things and being creative.”

The shed welcomes inquiries from potential new members and from people, companies and other organisations who might be able to further its work.

Storage facilities and shop premises – or a part of shop premises would be particularly welcome, and Kevin would also like to hear from other social organisations with a view to co-operation.

Contact can be made via and on 07544 540576.