One of the final acts of outgoing Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Martin Surl following yesterday’s election result was to confirm the offer of a new home for Kingsway and Quedgeley Men’s Shed.
A settlement between the PCC and Gloucester City Council planners, known as a section 106 agreement, has opened the way for the group to re-locate on an unused piece of land in Glevum Way, Abbeydale.
It will secure the organisation’s future and enable it to offer support to more potentially vulnerable men in the community.
Men’s Shed chairman Brian Heatley said, “This is the Holy Grail for Men sheds. To have our own site is unusual for an organisation like ours and is something special”.
The idea of a Men’s Shed came from Australia and was introduced to help men come together for companionship in a safe and friendly environment and to share or develop their skills. Kingsway and Quedgeley Men’s Shed was launched in 2015.
Some join as they feel isolated following retirement, others to take time out from caring duties or just to socialise with other like-minded men. Kingsway and Quedgeley currently has around 20 members aged 18-78.
The ½-acre site in Abbeydale, which is owned by the PCC, was originally earmarked for community use but the plans were scrapped along with other local authority cutbacks during the years of austerity.
Mr. Heatley said, “We can’t thank Martin [PCC Martin Surl] enough. Not only have grants from the Commissioner’s Fund helped us get up and running, he also let us use a piece of his land at Waterwells so that we could have our own space. And unlike some other landlords, he has always allowed us to be independent and get on with what we want to do without interference.
“We can develop this piece of land as a project and it will allow us to put on more sessions and hopefully attract more men who might otherwise be alone and isolated”.
Construction and property services company Wilmott Dixon is also supporting the project as part of its commitment to community engagement in areas where it is working. The firm is currently involved in the re-development of the Constabulary’s operations base at Bamfurlong and also worked closely with the PCC on the re-development of the Sabrina Centre, the state of the art training and conference centre at Berkeley which opened last year.
Mr. Surl, whose term as PCC ends at midnight tomorrow (Wednesday) said, “Men of a certain age, and especially when they have retired, either have fewer outlets or find it much harder to socialise with their peers. It can leave them feeling isolated and vulnerable.
“Men’s Shed is great for getting them out of their homes and giving them a renewed purpose.
“This piece of land has been lying around empty and doing nothing for about 20 years. Letting the Men’s Shed have it is just too good an opportunity to miss on so many levels”.